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HKSAR govt formally asks US to withdraw rule on HK products

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah elaborates on initiatives relating to the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau in the Chief Executive’s 2018 Policy Address at a press conference in Hong Kong, Oct 11, 2018. (PHOTO/CEDB.GOV.HK)

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government on Wednesday formally asked the United States to immediately withdraw its new origin marking requirement on Hong Kong products.

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the government said Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau met Acting US Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau Paul Horowitz and asked him to deliver his letter to the US Trade Representative, expressing the HKSAR government’s strong objection to the new US requirement. 

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau met Acting US Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau Paul Horowitz and asked him to deliver his letter to the US Trade Representative, expressing the HKSAR government’s strong objection to the new US requirement

“The US’ unilateral and irresponsible attempt to weaken Hong Kong’s status as a separate customs territory is highly inappropriate,” Yau was quoted as saying in the statement.

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“Such a move also confuses the market and undermines the rules-based multilateral trading system. We will robustly advance our arguments to defend Hong Kong’s interests.”

The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices (ETOs) in Washington DC and Geneva also forwarded copies of Yau’s letter to the Office of the US Trade Representative and the US Customs and Border Protection, which announced the requirement on Aug 11, in Washington DC, and to the Permanent Mission of the US to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva. 

The ETOs will also arrange discussions with relevant US authorities.

“As a responsible WTO member, Hong Kong always abides by WTO rules. The action taken by the HKSAR government today is in accordance with the spirit and practices of the WTO. It is an important step before taking action against the US under the WTO framework with a view to resolving the matter first at a bilateral level,” Yau said.

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“We will continue to follow up on the matter depending on the US’ response. If the US refuses to withdraw the requirement and bilateral discussions fail to reach satisfactory outcomes, the HKSAR government will take action against the US in accordance with the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism to safeguard Hong Kong’s interests under WTO rules,” he added.

According to the WTO regulations, if a member believes that another member has violated WTO rules, the affected party may request consultations with the other party to resolve the matter. If the parties fail to reach consensus through consultations, the complaining party may request the Dispute Settlement Body to establish a panel to consider the dispute.

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Yau reiterated that under “one country, two systems”, Hong Kong is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China, and at the same time the motherland confers through the Basic Law a special status to the HKSAR. 

Under the Basic Law, the HKSAR is a separate customs territory and may, using the name “Hong Kong, China”, participate in international organisations such as the WTO and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation as a separate member, and develop mutually beneficial economic and trade relations with economies around the world. 

The special status of Hong Kong has been widely recognized and respected by the international community, and Hong Kong’s economic and trade status is on par with that of other WTO members.     

Reference