Sticking ‘made in China’ label on Hong Kong goods forces traders to lie: commerce minister

Published (HKT): 2020.08.14 10:08

A new Washington rule to label goods made in Hong Kong as “made in China” is akin to forcing traders to lie, the city’s commerce chief has said.

The United States’ requirement was “unreasonable and barbaric,” Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau said, adding that it would be a mistake to describe products made in Hong Kong as having been made in China.

Washington announced the new rule on Wednesday after it decided to rescind Hong Kong’s special trade status following the passage of a controversial national security law.

Yau said Hong Kong exported about HK$3.7 billion (US$477 million) worth of local goods to the U.S. every year. The industries that would suffer the biggest impact included jewelry and food, he said.

The U.S. decision might have contravened rules laid out by the World Trade Organization, Yau said without elaboration. He said Hong Kong’s special trade status was granted by China and the city would take measures to protect its own interests.

Daniel Yip, chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, said the new labeling requirement would affect traders’ confidence in dealing with the U.S.

Separately, China’s Assistant Minister of Commerce Ren Hongbin said on Thursday that Washington’s removal of Hong Kong’s special trade status severely damaged the Sino-U.S. relationship. He said the status was not given by the U.S. but was agreed by countries in the WTO.

Ren said China would further integrate the economies of Hong Kong and the mainland and would fully support Hong Kong’s participation in the Chinese-led Belt and Road initiative.

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