China Origin Labeling to be Required for Imports from Hong Kong, Raising Tariff Concerns
© , Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A. Originally published in the [08/11/2020] issue of the Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report. Reprinted by permission.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced that imported goods produced in Hong Kong will have to be marked to indicate China as their country of origin rather than Hong Kong. CBP is granting importers a 45-day transition period for this change, which will take effect for goods entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption on or after Sept. 25.
19 USC 1304 requires articles of foreign origin to be marked so as to indicate to purchasers the country of origin of imported goods. Pursuant to a July 14 executive order, CBP states that it suspending the application of section 201(a) of the U.S.-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, under which the U.S. continued to treat Hong Kong as a separate customs territory after it reverted to Chinese control in July 1997, to 19 USC 1304. As a result, goods of Hong Kong will have to be labeled as products of China.
However, this change also raises concerns that goods produced or substantially transformed in Hong Kong will be treated as having originated in China for purposes of the Section 301 tariffs the U.S. currently levies against products of China. This is because CBP generally follows a substantial transformation test to identify the country of origin for purposes of 19 USC 1304.