WTO to rule on US ban on ‘made in Hong Kong’ label

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The World Trade Organization agreed Monday to establish a dispute resolution panel on the new US rule that all goods imported from Hong Kong must be stamped “Made in China”.

The WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body accepted a second request from Hong Kong to establish a panel “to rule on US origin-marking requirements for goods”, a Geneva trade official said.

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Hong Kong made a first request for arbitration at the Geneva-based global trade body on January 25, but the move was blocked by the US.

Under WTO rules, a second request is, in practice, automatically accepted.

However, a resolution is far from near, as the settlement of trade disputes at the WTO usually takes years.

In July last year, then-US president Donald Trump announced the end of the preferential conditions granted by Washington to Hong Kong, after the imposition by Beijing of sweeping new security laws on the semi-autonomous territory.

A month later, US customs announced that goods imported from Hong Kong would have to be stamped “Made in China” rather than “Made in Hong Kong”.

The new rules came into effect in November.

Hong Kong said the measures were inconsistent with a raft of WTO regulations including the rules of origin agreement and the technical barriers to trade agreement.

The territory described the requirements as “arbitrary, unilateral, unnecessary and unjustifiable”, the trade official said.

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