US urged to respect WTO ruling

(To watch the full media session with sign language interpretation, click here.)


Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Algernon Yau today said he has written to the US Trade Representative to urge the US to withdraw the origin marking requirement imposed on Hong Kong products following the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) ruling.


Since November 2020, the US has required that all products exported from Hong Kong to the US must be marked as originating in China instead of Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government made a request to the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) in early 2021 to set up a panel to handle the dispute.


The panel submitted a report to the DSB yesterday, in which it clearly ruled that the US’ origin marking requirement imposed on Hong Kong products is inconsistent with the most-favoured-nation treatment requirement in respect of origin marking under the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade 1994. It also recommended the US to bring the measure into conformity.


Speaking to the media this morning, Mr Yau said the panel’s ruling fully affirmed the status of Hong Kong, China as a separate customs territory and confirmed that the US attempted to impose discriminatory and unfair requirements unilaterally which unreasonably suppressed Hong Kong products and enterprises.


“In terms of the trade between Hong Kong and the US – the total exports to the US is only about 0.1% of the value of the total exports of Hong Kong, which amounts to about $7.4 billion, which is very minimal.


“The whole spirit is to uphold the status and position of the Hong Kong SAR in the WTO as a separate customs territory.


“Even though the financial implication is minimal, it caused a lot of confusion to the customers regarding the ‘Made in Hong Kong’ or ‘Made in China’ origin marking requirement.


“It is also causing unnecessary concern by the manufacturers to separate the production into ‘Made in Hong Kong’ or ‘Made in China’ for doing business.”


In addition to writing to the US Trade Representative, Mr Yau has instructed the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in Washington to contact the Office of the US Trade Representative as well as the US Customs & Border Protection to urge them to immediately withdraw the origin marking requirement which violates WTO rules.


According to the WTO mechanism, the US may appeal through the DSB within 60 days if it does not agree with the panel’s report. Otherwise, the report will be passed and adopted.


Mr Yau stressed that the Hong Kong SAR Government will pay attention to the development of the issue and take corresponding actions if the US decides to appeal.