South Africa is currently an emerging economy and has various trade agreements with the United States of America and the United Kingdom according to which South Africa enjoys different preferential rules of origin. In some respects, current customs and excise legislation relating to rules of origin places South Africa at a disadvantage in the global arena. In some cases, preferential rules of origin with developed countries benefit South Africa little if they are not properly structured, or if the rules of various trade agreements contradict each other.
The aim of this study was to ascertain whether South Africa’s rules of origin are sufficiently aligned with those of more developed economies to improve the economy, thereby increasing trade growth and tax revenue. This study compared the South African rules of origin with rules of origin that are applied in another developing country, namely Brazil, as well as to those applied in two developed countries, namely the United Kingdom and the United States. To illustrate the application of the rules of origin, this study focused specifically on rules of origin applicable to individual quick frozen poultry. This comparative study identified similarities and differences between the countries, and noted possible improvements to South African customs and excise tax legislation for this industry. It was found that the rules of origin applied in South Africa are similar in some respects to those used in the UK. An improvement that South Africa could make is to minimise the number of rules in effect by negotiating better preferential rates of duty across more than one country. South Africa could also ensure that it can comply with all obligatory conditions of trade agreements entered into to avoid under-utilisation of the benefits of a trade agreement. By adopting or adapting some of the advantages of the rules of origin in the countries chosen for comparison, South Africa can grow its international trade and generate increased tax revenue to support the government’s revenue income demand.