Commonly Used Terms

Certificate of Origin (COO)

A document required by the authorities in an importing country to prove the origin of the goods. 


A document submitted to a Government authority (e.g. Customs) for the purpose of describing goods for which the declarant is responsible in order to obtain permission to import them, export them or transport them.  A declaration is usually submitted using a prescribed form and may need to be accompanied by certain supporting documents.  A declaration carries legal value and may be used as evidence in court.

Enquiry Point

An official or office in a WTO member government designated to deal with enquiries from other WTO members and the public on a subject such as technical barriers to trade or sanitary/phytosanitary measures.


Free Trade Agreement.  An international agreement negotiated between states or associations of states on behalf of their members (e.g. ASEAN) aimed at simplifying trade between the parties to the agreement as well as reducing and eventually eliminating all tariffs for goods traded between these countries. You can see any preferential tariffs relating to FTA's in this website under Commodity Search


Generalized System of Preferences.  A GSP is a preferential tariff system which provides for a formal system of exemption from the more general rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) usually offered to developing nations.

HS Code

The 8 digit code of the Harmonized System that defines commodities.  An HS Code is structured according to a hierarchy made up of Chapter (First 2 digits), Sub-Chapter (first 4-digits), Sub-Heading (First 6-digits) and Code (full 8 digits).  The HS Code is used to identify a commodity for the purpose of applying a tariff or any special measures.


Least Developed Country. An LDC is a country that, according to the United Nations, exhibits the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development, with the lowest Human Development Index ratings of all countries in the world.


A special provision applying to a commodity.  This could be a temporary or permanent prohibition due to SPS or other reasons or a specific requirement to obtain certain documents or carry out certain procedures.  Normally, application of a measure is determined by the issue of a ministerial regulation or by an article of law.  See also NTM below.


Most Favoured Nation.  The principle of MFN is enshrined in Article I of the WTO's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT 1947 and 1994).  You can see the base MFN duty rate for all commodities in this website under Commodity Search.


Non-Tariff Measures.  These are the widely divergent measures that countries use to regulate markets, protect their consumers, or preserve their natural resources (among other objectives), but that can also be used (or perceived by foreign countries) to discriminate against imports in order to protect domestic industries.  See also Measures above.


A transparency obligation requiring WTO member governments to report trade measures to the relevant WTO body if the measures might have an effect on other members


Rules of Origin.  The rules that determine the origin of the goods in order to take advantage of a preferential tariff reduction.


Single Administrative Document.  The form used by a trader to submit an import, export or transit declaration to Customs.

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures

Measures dealing with food safety and animal and plant health.

  • Sanitary: for human and animal health
  • Phytosanitary: for plants and plant products

SPS Agreement

The WTO Agreement with the rules regarding Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures

TBT Agreement

The WTO Agreement concerning the application of technical regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures and how these should not constitute Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).


Refers to the degree to which trade policies and practices, and the process by which they are established, are open and predictable


World Customs Organizations (


World Trade Organization (


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