WTO rejects US ‘Made in China’ labeling on Hong Kong goods

GENEVA — World Trade Organization arbitrators concluded on Wednesday that the United States went overboard in requiring products from Hong Kong to be labeled as “Made in China,” a move The attitude was part of Washington’s response to a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters there in 2019 and 2020.

A WTO dispute panel found that the United States had breached its obligations under the trade body’s rules and rejected Washington’s argument that “essential security interests” of the United States allow such labeling. The council said the situation did not pose an “emergency” that would allow for an exemption under the trade body’s rules.

The United States or Hong Kong can appeal the ruling to the WTO’s appellate court. However, the Appellate Body is currently inactive as the United States has almost unilaterally suspended the appointment of new members to the court amid concerns that the body has exceeded its mandate. Any such appeal will therefore be nullified by arbitration and remain unresolved.

The US Trade Representative’s office almost said it plans to ignore Wednesday’s ruling.

“The United States does not intend to remove the marking requirement as a result of this report, and we will not waive our judgment or determination on security matters essential to the WTO,” a spokesman for the office said. Department of Adam Hodgesaid said in a statement.

Hong Kong is one of China’s special administrative regions and is considered a separate commercial entity from China.

Three decades ago, the US Congress passed legislation that would allow products from Hong Kong to benefit from a different trade status with China – and potentially lower tariffs – as long as it remained free enough. owner. By marking products as “Made in China,” the United States can essentially increase tariffs on goods from Hong Kong.

The US move comes in response to the political upheavals in Hong Kong in 2019 and 2020, especially over the National Security Law Beijing imposed on the former British colony, using the law. this to silence or imprison many democracy activists.

In July 2020, then-US President Donald Trump issued an executive order stating that Hong Kong “no longer has sufficient autonomy to justify differential treatment with respect to the People’s Republic of China”. Chinese people.”


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