The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said Tuesday that the World Trade Organization (WTO) trade dispute settlement body has agreed to its request for establishing a dispute settlement panel over the U.S. new requirement on origin marking for Hong Kong products.
Under the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism, Hong Kong made the request as early as Jan. 25 to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), saying the U.S. practice violates WTO rules, according to the HKSAR government.
It said in a statement that the WTO department on trade dispute made the decision on Monday at a meeting, at which the Permanent Representative of the HKSAR of China to the WTO Laurie Lo voiced Hong Kong's strong objection to the U.S. imposition of the new requirement on origin marking for Hong Kong products, saying the U.S. move is unilateral and irresponsible.
Lo pointed out that the new requirement is not only unjustifiable but also inconsistent with multiple WTO rules, constituting damage to Hong Kong's interests as a WTO member.
A spokesman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau of the HKSAR government said in the statement that so far 13 WTO members have indicated an interest to join meetings of the panel as third parties, and that this shows their concern over the issue which involves the multilateral trading system and the equal rights of WTO members.
The spokesman reiterated that in accordance with the HKSAR Basic Law, the HKSAR is a separate customs territory and may, using the name "Hong Kong, China", participate in international organizations as a separate member, and develop mutually beneficial economic and trade relations with economies around the world.
The special status of Hong Kong has been widely recognized and respected by the international community, and Hong Kong's economic and trade status is on par with that of other WTO members, said the spokesman.
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, the spokesman said.