First, the customs duties and other rules which are maintained in each of the signatory parties to a free trade area and which are applicable at the time of the establishment of such a free trade area shall not be higher or more restrictive for trade with non-parties to such a free trade area than customs duties and other rules which existed in the same signatory parties before the establishment of the free trade area. In other words, the creation of a free trade area for preferential treatment among its members is legitimate under WTO law, but parties to a free trade area should not treat non-parties less favourably than before the establishment of the area. A second requirement of Article XXIV is that tariffs and other barriers to trade must essentially eliminate all trade within the free trade area. [10] The creation of free trade areas is considered an exception to the most-favoured-nation principle within the World Trade Organization (WTO), since the preferences that parties to a free trade area grant exclusively to each other go beyond their membership obligations. [9] Although Article XXIV of the GATT allows WTO members to establish free trade areas or to adopt interim agreements necessary for their establishment, there are several conditions with respect to free trade areas or interim agreements that lead to the creation of free trade areas. Free trade agreements, which are free trade areas, are generally outside the scope of the multilateral trading system. However, WTO members must inform the secretariat when concluding new free trade agreements and, in principle, the texts of free trade agreements are subject to review by the Committee on Regional Trade Agreements. [11] Although a dispute that arises within free trade areas is not the subject of disputes before the WTO Dispute Settlement Body, “there is no guarantee that WTO panels will comply with it and refuse to exercise jurisdiction in a given case.” [12] For your products to receive preferential treatment under the free trade agreement, you must prove that they comply with the rules of origin of the agreement in question. This is done by completing documents in order to prove to the customs administration of the destination country that your products are eligible for preferential tariff treatment under the agreement.

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