Hong Kong will formally challenge a US demand that it changes the way it labels its exports as the city grapples with the international fallout from Beijing’s imposition of a tough national security law on the territory.
The territory’s government said that new US rules — which require that products exported from Hong Kong to the US are labelled “Made in China” — breached World Trade Organization rules and that it “will take action” as a result.
Through the WTO dispute settlement system, members typically seek to resolve issues through bilateral consultations. If these fail, disputes proceed to a panel. “US’s new rule on origin marking of Hong Kong products disregards Hong Kong’s status as a separate WTO member and violates WTO rules,” a spokesperson for Hong Kong’s commerce and economic development bureau said in this week.
The controversy over the US rules underlines the dilemma facing the Hong Kong government, which needs to support the security legislation or risk looking disloyal to Beijing. But it is also keen to maintain its image as a dynamic financial and international export hub. Hong Kong has already been hit by a trade war between China and the US, which has led to the imposition of tariffs, because the bulk of its exports flowing to the US originate on the
The restriction on labelling products made within its borders has symbolic undertones for a territory that has operated under a semi-autonomous government since it was handed over to China from Britain in 1997.