ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

WTO creates panel to settle dispute with US on 'Made in Hong Kong' label

The government has asserted the US ban on 'Made in Hong Kong' markings counters WTO rules.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body has authorised the creation of a panel in light of Hong Kong’s concern on the new requirements on origin markings set by the United States.

Hong Kong asked the WTO to establish a panel to decide on the US rule that products imported from Hong Kong should be stamped “Made in China” instead of “Made in Hong Kong”.

The requirement, which has been strongly opposed by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, is also deemed inconsistent with the WTO rules. It took effect in November 2020.

“The new requirement is not only unjustifiable, but is also inconsistent with a number of WTO rules, and it damages Hong Kong's interests as a WTO member,” said Laurie Lo, permanent representative of the HKSAR of China to the WTO.

“It is therefore necessary to set up a panel to follow up on the matter,” Lo added.

A spokesman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said 13 WTO members have shown interest to join the panel as third parties. This signals concern on the issue that involves multilateral trading system and equal rights of WTO members.

The government has asserted that under Articles 116, 151 and 152 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong is considered a separate customs territory. In effect, it is allowed to participate as a separate member in international organisations, such as the WTO and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

“The marking not only conforms to Hong Kong's status as a separate customs territory and complies with WTO rules, but also provides consumers with clear and accurate information on product origin,” the spokesman said, noting the origin marking has been widely accepted globally for many years.

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