Non-preferential origin vs preferential origin
There is an important difference between non-preferential origin and preferential origin.
Most of the preferential arrangements derive from the various agreements concluded between the European Union and third countries. These agreements establish free trade areas. One of the features of a free trade area is the free movement of originating goods between the contracting parties without the simultaneous application of a common customs tariff to goods from third countries. In some cases, the European Union autonomously grants preferences to certain beneficiary countries without an agreement being in place. However, a free trade agreement or autonomous arrangement does not always cover all products, and a decision is made about which products are eligible for preferences and which are not for each free trade agreement or autonomous arrangement. In most cases – particularly in view of the European Union’s common agricultural policy – agricultural products are largely excluded.
The free movement of originated products referred to above does not always mean that the goods can be completely relieved of import duties; reduced import duties may be levied instead. This applies to imports from beneficiary countries under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and sometimes, for a transitional period, to certain products from countries with which a free trade agreement has recently been concluded. When the free trade agreement enters into force, a gradual dismantling of the normally applicable import duties is provided for over a certain period of time. The speed of this dismantling within the European Union may differ from the rate applied in the country of the other contracting party.
The European Union’s preferential system is based on the following free trade agreements and autonomous arrangements:
You can also request the arrangement as a PDF file.
Source: Customs Manual, chapters 7 and 8