Mrs Thorstensen, who was chair for six years, said that “faced with the reality of globalization and increasing multi-country production of a good, our work requires reaching an agreement on specific rules of origin for 2,739 products”.

She said that despite years of hard work by the Committee since 1995, it had been necessary to seek the regular extension of its deadline for completing the work of harmonizing non-preferential rules of origin.

The outgoing chair underlined the importance of clear and harmonized rules of origin for the effective functioning of the multilateral trading system.

Mrs Thorstensen held informal consultations during the week on a number of outstanding technical issues in the work programme, including on the general procedural rule to determine how to apply sequential product-specific rules of origin in various situations as well as on minimal operations that would not confer origin, and covered products such as dried fish, freeze-dried vegetables, alcoholic beverage, and machinery.

During the meeting, the World Customs Organization presented a report on the work of the Technical Committee on Rules of Origin, including on its recent technical cooperation projects.

The Committee elected by acclamation Ms Jasmine Quah-Zubair (Singapore) as its chair for 2010. The new chair praised Mrs Thorstensen for her “unprecedented determination and great qualities of leadership” in her tenure as chair. Canada, the United States, China, Japan, the Philippines on behalf of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), India, Switzerland and the Republic of Korea also commended Mrs Thorstensen's leadership.

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