Digital trade: a step into the world of FTAs, preferential rules of origin & Genesis

Fiona Parsons
Senior Marketing Manager - Commercial
26th March 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of global trade, staying ahead means embracing digital innovation.

With an astounding 361 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) worldwide, the complexity of navigating these waters has never been more challenging. The UK stands among this global network with 71 FTAs, including three forged post-EU departure. At the forefront of this digital revolution, Business West’s International Trade Services will be launching Genesis later this year*, an exciting digital verification tool designed to support businesses utilising FTAs.

The training journey: 

Our commitment to understanding and leveraging the benefits of FTAs led us to a comprehensive three-day training program, delivered by Frank Bertens, Policy Advisor Export Documents at the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce. As the Senior Marketing Manager for International Trade and a novice in the realms of preference and rules of origin, I seized the opportunity to dive deep into this training alongside our team. The experience was enlightening, to say the least.

Frank Bertens and the Business West International Trade team

Key learnings:

  • The essence of FTAs and rules of origin: Frank meticulously unravelled the intricacies of FTAs and the critical role of rules of origin, providing us with the knowledge necessary to navigate these complex regulations.
  • Non-preferential vs. preferential origin: We were taught the distinction between non-preferential origin, which determines the economic nationality of goods without FTA considerations, and preferential origin, which can offer businesses substantial duty savings under FTAs.
  • Harmonised Code System (HS) misconceptions: Common pitfalls such as incorrect product identification using the Harmonised System (HS) were highlighted, emphasising the need for accurate classification to avoid compliance issues.

Challenges and solutions: 

The path to leveraging FTAs is fraught with challenges, from proving sufficient production processes to claim preference, to providing adequate evidence to ensure compliance and understanding the complex language of FTAs. Yet, the insights gained from our training underscored a crucial message: the complexities of preference and rules of origin, while daunting, are navigable and there is expertise available at Business West.


Our journey into the world of FTAs revealed not just the challenges but the vast opportunities for businesses willing to explore this terrain. With Genesis, Business West International Trade Services is poised to revolutionise how businesses interact with FTAs, offering unparalleled guidance and support. Our tool not only provides an independent, third-party, verification process to origin self-certification but also empowers businesses to unlock new markets, enjoy duty savings, and enhance competitive edge on a global scale.

Final Thoughts:

Embarking on this training was more than an educational endeavour; it was an experience that deepened my empathy for exporters wrestling with FTA tariffs and regulations. Preference and rules of origin represent a complex but crucial aspect of international trade. While many traders might hesitate to delve into FTAs, the potential benefits are undeniable. With Business West's expertise, businesses can confidently navigate these waters, ensuring they not only survive but thrive in the competitive world of international trade.

Genesis is launching on *1st July 2024. Contact us if you would like to find out more about Genesis.

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