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NDTO News Article

February Trade Talk Gives Attendees a Candid Look at Navigating Free Trade Agreements

More than 30 businesspeople and government officials from around the region got an up-close-and-personal look at navigating NAFTA and other Free Trade Agreements (FTA) at the Trade Talk that was held on Feb. 8 in Fargo.  Bonnie Anderson of WTH International Services gave participants a candid look at FTA’s citing examples from over 30 years of experience in international trade.

Key Points Covered at Event:

  • NAFTA and Free Trade Agreement Requirements
  • Structure and classification of goods under the Harmonized System
  • How the Harmonized System of classification relates to NAFTA and the Free Trade Agreements
  • How to correctly apply specific Rules of Origin and the qualification process
  • Proper completion of Certificates of Origin as they relate to NAFTA and the Free Trade Agreements
  • Maintaining the required FTA records

10 Pointers for Ensuring Your NAFTA Documentation Remains Compliant:

  1. 1. Understand the Rules of Origin.  Know these rules before you begin completing your NAFTA Certificate of Origin.
  2. 2. Check to see if your product is duty-free going into the destination country. Often times, products are duty-free to Canada or Mexico, so a NAFTA cert is not necessary.
  3. Don’t give anyone a NAFTA Cert until you do your NAFTA verification. Your verification begins with understanding how your products classify and what rules apply to the tariff number under which your product classifies.
  4. Include clear descriptions with all part numbers. Listing all parts, properly classified, with the appropriate tariff code.
  5. List Only American Goods. Ensure that the goods listed on the NAFTA’s you submit properly list the United States as the country of origin.
  6. Date documents properly. NAFTA’s that are missing signatures or that are dated incorrectly will not be accepted.
  7. Check country of origin. Ensure that the goods listed on the NAFTA’s you submit properly list the United States as the country of origin.
  8. Backup documentation.  Store in a secure place, preferably as an electronic record.
  9. Keep information for only 5 years.  If you happen to be audited and have documentation that dates further back than five years, these documents will be eligible for audit.
  10. NAFTA certification should be signed by someone with knowledge.  Preferably a company executive.

Many US exporters are not taking full advantage of the benefits offered by FTAs, while others continually find themselves being denied the preferential tariff treatments for their products.  If you would like to learn more about FTA compliance, contact Sharon May at