According to several Hong Kong media reports, the WTO’s dispute settlement body accepted Hong Kong’s second request to set up a panel “to rule on the United States’ rule on the marking of origin of goods”.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday agreed to set up a dispute settlement panel over new US rules that require all goods imported from Hong Kong to carry a “Made in China” stamp.
A trade official in Geneva said the WTO’s dispute settlement body had accepted a second request from Hong Kong to set up a panel “to rule on the US origin designation claim for Hong Kong goods”.
Hong Kong filed its first arbitration claim with the Geneva-based WTO on January 25, but the move was blocked by the US.
Under WTO rules, the second request is in effect automatically accepted.
However, resolving trade disputes at the WTO usually takes years, so a resolution is far from in the offing.
In July last year, then-US President Donald Trump announced the end of Washington’s preferential terms to Hong Kong after Beijing imposed sweeping new security laws on the territory.
A month later, United States customs announced that goods imported from Hong Kong must be stamped “Made in China” rather than “Made in Hong Kong.” This means that goods made in Hong Kong will be subject to the same US tariffs as those on the mainland.
The measures were originally scheduled to take effect on September 25 last year, but were then extended to November and finally took effect on November 10.
Hong Kong said the measures did not comply with a number of WTO rules, including the Agreement on Rules of Origin and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.
The trade official said Hong Kong had described the demands as “arbitrary, unilateral, unnecessary and unreasonable”.
The Hong Kong Government had previously lodged representations with the US Government, strongly objecting to its new requirements on origin marking of goods in Hong Kong and demanding its immediate withdrawal. If the US persists, the SAR government will take action against it in accordance with the WTO dispute settlement mechanism.