US Labelling Rule Breaks WTO Rules: Edward Yau

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2020-09-16 HKT 17:24

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  • US labelling rule breaks WTO rules: Edward Yau

The Hong Kong government has written a letter to US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, saying Washington is infringing WTO rules and rights of Hong Kong as a separate customs entity by enforcing 'Made in China' tags for goods produced here.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Edward Yau, said he met the US consul general on Wednesday morning and asked him to pass the letter to Lighthizer.

The letter expresses Hong Kong's opposition to the new labelling rule and called on the US to withdraw it immediately.

"The basic reason for Hong Kong’s action is such a requirement on origin marking goes contrary to WTO regulations, and also it infringes Hong Kong’s rights as a separate customs territory and our rights under WTO, so we take issue with that," Yau said.

"Hong Kong takes the WTO, and also the rule-based system very close to our heart, because we are an independent and separate member in WTO and Hong Kong has always been a vocal voice in vanguarding the rule-based system."

Yau also said he instructed the Hong Kong’s trade offices in the United States and representatives at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva to convey the same message to their US counterparts.

He said they would wait for a US response before deciding what further action to take.

In August, Washington issued a notification that all goods made in Hong Kong and exported to the United States will need to be labelled as made in China. The requirement initially was going to come into effect on September 25 but was extended to November 9.

The new rule was made in response to Beijing’s imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong and Washington's decision to end the SAR's special status, escalating Sino-US tensions that were already rising over trade war tariffs and the handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Asked why the letter was being submitted now, Yau said it was part of a coordinated process that started in August.

The WTO on Tuesday ruled that the US had breached global trading rules by imposing multi-billion-dollar tariffs in President Donald Trump's trade war with China.

But in a response Lighthizer said the ruling showed WTO is "completely inadequate to stop China's harmful technology practices". (Additional reporting by Reuters)