WTO to handle trade dispute

February 23, 2021

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) agreed at its meeting on February 22 to Hong Kong's request to establish a panel to consider the dispute raised by the city with respect to the violation of WTO rules by the US' new requirement on origin marking for Hong Kong products, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government said today.


At the DSB meeting, Permanent Representative of the Hong Kong SAR to the WTO Laurie Lo reiterated Hong Kong's strong objection against the US' unilateral and irresponsible imposition of the new requirement on origin marking for Hong Kong products.


Mr Lo also pointed out that the new requirement is not only unjustifiable but also inconsistent with a number of WTO rules and it damages Hong Kong's interests as a WTO member. It is therefore necessary to set up a panel to follow up on the matter, he explained.


The Commerce & Economic Development Bureau said so far 13 WTO members have indicated an interest to join the panel's meetings as third parties. This shows their concern with the issue which involves the multilateral trading system and the equal rights of WTO members.


The Hong Kong SAR Government made the first request to the DSB at its meeting on January 25 to establish a panel to consider the dispute in accordance with the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism.


According to the mechanism, after the complaining party has made a request, a panel shall be established at the latest at the DSB meeting following the meeting at which the request first appears as an item on the DSB's agenda.


The bureau reiterated that pursuant to the Basic Law, the Hong Kong SAR 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 Co-operation as a separate member, and develop mutually beneficial economic and trade relations with economies around the world.


It emphasised that Hong Kong's special status has been widely recognised and respected by the international community and the city's economic and trade status is on par with that of other WTO members.


The bureau added that the "Made in Hong Kong" marking on Hong Kong products has been accepted internationally for many years. The marking not only conforms to Hong Kong's status as a separate customs territory and complies with WTO rules but also provides consumers with clear and accurate information on product origin.

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