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With tensions showing no signs of a cool-off, the US will now brand all of Hong Kong's exports to that country as 'Made in China'. In real terms, it will not have much of an impact. Image Credit: Reuters

Washington: The US will order imports from Hong Kong to be labeled as 'Made in China' according to a draft government document, in the latest escalation of trade tensions between the two nations.

The notice is set to be published in the US Federal Register, and says that goods produced in Hong Kong and imported into the US must be marked to indicate their origin is China. This will begin 45 days after the date of publication in the register.

The actual impact of the new rules on Hong Kong's trade or economy will likely be limited as there are few direct exports from the city to the US. The vast majority of the city's shipments to the US consist of re-exports, or goods passing through its territory with no substantial modifications.

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Of Hong Kong's roughly HK$304 billion ($39 billion) in exports to the US last year, only about 1.2 per cent were domestic exports, according to data from the Census and Statistics Department Hong Kong. Almost 80 per cent was re-exports from China to the US.

The change was made because of President Donald Trump's July executive order ending Hong Kong's special status with the US "due to the determination that Hong Kong is no longer sufficiently autonomous to justify differential treatment in relation to China," the notice said.