Statement from USTR Spokesperson Adam Hodge

December 21, 2022

The United States strongly rejects the flawed interpretation and conclusions in the World Trade Organization (WTO) Panel report released today regarding Hong Kong, China’s challenge to the U.S. determination and action suspending differential treatment for marks of origin. The U.S. action responded to highly concerning actions by the People’s Republic of China to erode Hong Kong, China’s autonomy and the democratic and human rights of its people, threatening U.S. national security interests.

The Biden Administration remains committed to preserving U.S. national security and protecting human rights and democracy, and taking action to protect national security is a right inherent to any sovereign nation and explicitly reflected in the WTO Agreement. The United States has held the clear and unequivocal position, for over 70 years, that issues of national security cannot be reviewed in WTO dispute settlement, and the WTO has no authority to second-guess the ability of a WTO Member to respond to what it considers a threat to its security.

The Hong Kong panel report suggests that the United States cannot act to address China’s undermining of democratic and human rights and democracy in Hong Kong. To be clear, the United States does not intend to remove the marking requirement as a result of this report, and we will not cede our judgment or decision-making over essential security matters to the WTO. This report further underscores the need for fundamental WTO reform and the United States will continue to work constructively with Members to ensure that the WTO remains relevant to the lives of all people.