WTO tells US goods from Hong Kong are not ‘Made in China’

World Trade Organization arbitrators concluded on Wednesday that the US had gone too far in asking for it. products from Hong Kong labeled as “Made in China”, a move that was part of Washington’s response to a crackdown on pro-democracy protests there in 2019-2020.

A WTO dispute panel found that the United States had breached its obligations under the trade body’s rules and rejected Washington’s argument that “essential security interests” of the United States allow such labeling. The panel said the situation did not pose an “emergency” to justify such an exemption under the trade body’s rules.

The United States or Hong Kong can appeal the ruling to the WTO’s appellate court. However, the Appellate Body is currently inactive as the United States has almost unilaterally suspended the appointment of new members to the court amid concerns that the body has exceeded its mandate. Therefore, any such claim shall be nullified by arbitration and remain unresolved.

The Office of the US Trade Representative said it would ignore Wednesday’s ruling.

USTR spokesman Adam Hodge said in a statement: “The United States has no intention of removing the marking requirement as a result of this report, and we will not yield our judgment or determination on these matters.” essential security for the WTO”.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, is one of China’s special administrative regions and is considered a separate commercial entity from China.

At a news conference on Thursday, Hong Kong Commerce Secretary Algernon Yau said he had written to the USTR urging the US to drop the label requirement.

He said the US market only accounts for about 0.1% of Hong Kong’s exports, but the requirement has caused “unnecessary concern” for manufacturers.

“Although the financial implications are very small, it has caused a lot of confusion among customers about ‘Made in Hong Kong’ or ‘Made in China’,” he said.

Three decades ago, the US Congress passed legislation that would allow products from Hong Kong to benefit from a different trade status with China and potentially lower tariffs if that were to happen. still self-sufficient. By marking products as “Made in China”, the US could increase tariffs on goods from Hong Kong.

Month-long mass protests in Hong Kong in 2019-2020. They softened after Beijing imposed the National Security Law, which used it to silence or imprison many democracy activists.

In July 2020, then-US President Donald Trump issued an executive order stating that Hong Kong “no longer has sufficient autonomy to justify differential treatment with respect to the People’s Republic of China”. Chinese people.”

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