Made-in-China switch seen as 'barbarous'

Local | Maisy Mok 14 Aug 2020

Hong Kong's trade chief has strongly condemned the United States as "barbarous" for requiring Hong Kong exporters to label their products as "made in China."

Flanked by Chinese Manufacturers' Association president Dennis Ng Wang-pun and Federation of Hong Kong Industries chairman Daniel Yip Chung-yin, commerce and economic development secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah said the new US requirement violates World Trade Organization rules, but added that it is unlikely the US will impose immediate tariffs on Hong Kong products.

Yau said he understands the US government has not added any other measures aside from changing the origin label requirement for the time being.

"Under the new requirements, there is no change in the current import procedures, nor will the US conduct a tariff assessment, so it is unlikely that there will be any immediate action from the US to impose a tariff on Hong Kong products," Yau said.

Last year, Hong Kong exports to the US for products made in the territory amounted to HK$3.7 billion - less than 0.1 percent of Hong Kong's total exports, Yau said.

After a series of meetings with major local trade chambers yesterday, Yau said the new rule has brought confusion to traders from both Hong Kong and the US, as it deliberately forces them to lie about the origin of products.

"Put simply, it defies common sense."

Yau added the requirement is a sign that the US is disregarding WTO rules, but did not respond as to which specific rule it has violated.

"I think it is a deliberate attempt to undermine Hong Kong's separate custom territory status," he said. "All WTO members recognize Hong Kong, and I hope the US will not be an exception as it is also a member."

The government, he said, would consider taking action under WTO rules if necessary to protect Hong Kong's interests.

US Customs and Border Protection said on Tuesday that all imported goods from Hong Kong must change its label to "made in China" by September 25, saying it was "due to the determination that Hong Kong is no longer sufficiently autonomous to justify differential treatment in relation to China."

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