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US Customs Reports - Hong Kong Trade Deal Disaster

US Customs Reports Highlight Hong Kong Trade Deal Disaster

The Greens say the latest US Customs report on Hong Kong confirms the party's concerns about the government's proposed free trade deal with this Chinese region.

In the six months to March this year the US Customs Service found 23 companies guilty of violating textile trans-shipment and country of origin rules. Twenty of these violations were by Hong Kong companies - the other three were from Macau.

When US customs were first allowed to inspect Hong Kong factories in 1999 to assess the extent of illegal activity they suspected 51 out of 106 businesses of passing off Chinese and other imported goods as 'made in Hong Kong'.

"Such widespread dishonesty by Hong Kong companies has enormous implications for New Zealand," said Green Party Co-leader Rod Donald.

"Persistent abuses of country of origin and trans-shipment rules has led to the US government stationing 60 officials in Hong Kong to enforce compliance.

"The NZ Government wants to give Hong Kong free access to our market yet we don't have a single customs office based there to police our rules of origin requirements.

"Without doubt a Hong Kong trade deal would sacrifice the jobs of 20,000 New Zealanders in the clothing industry by opening the door to dirt cheap goods from the 50,000 Hong Kong owned sweatshops of Southern China, perpetuating unemployment at home and exploitation abroad.

"Only 12 percent of Hong Kong's exports are made there, with much of the rest being produced in the Guangdong export zone in China, where working and living conditions are often unsanitary and unsafe.

"New Zealand currently imports $462 million of clothing from China and as soon as Hong Kong is tariff free Chinese exporters will trans ship through Hong Kong to avoid the $83M in tariffs they are currently paying," he said.

"It is not in New Zealand's interests to provide an open backdoor for trade with China, a country which ignores labour and human rights and exploit children as a cheap workforce. Instead, trade must be fair, safe and environmentally sustainable," said Mr Donald.

Ends


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