Podcast #9: What Does Hong Kong's Special Trade Status Really Mean?

Jun 11, 2020
| By Vincent Chow
The U.S. is tightening export controls for a city that acts as a gateway for Chinese firms to access U.S. tech

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Hong Kong’s special trade status is in jeopardy, but what does it actually mean? In this episode, Wendy Wysong and Ali Burney explain what Hong Kong could lose if its special treatment under U.S. law is revoked, especially when it comes to U.S. export control regulations — a key area of U.S. law that has been front and center of the Trump administration’s campaign against Chinese businesses, most notably ZTE and Huawei.

For the full episode, click here to listen on Apple Podcasts and here for Spotify.

Wendy Wysong and Ali Burney are partners at global law firm Steptoe & Johnson. Wendy is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement in the Department of Commerce who previously represented Chinese telecom giant ZTE in their five-year multi-agency investigation in the U.S. Ali also has extensive experience in economic sanctions and export controls, having also worked previously in Washington, D.C. at the Office of Foreign Assets Control in the Department of Treasury.

The China Law Podcast is a weekly podcast exploring China’s business and financial sectors from a legal perspective. Get in touch at [email protected] with any feedback and ideas for future episodes.

Episode outline

  • 01:47 Looser rules for Hong Kong under U.S. export control regulations, mainly for dual-use and sensitive technology items
  • 07:26 Hong Kong as a transshipment hub for U.S. exports to reach the PRC
  • 10:47 Entity List and other tools used by U.S. export control authorities
  • 18:11 U.S. exporters “pushing down” contractual burdens on Hong Kong importers/re-exporters
  • 20:04 Deciding a business’ risk appetite and strengthening compliance programs
  • 21:57 Commerce Department’s receptiveness to industry feedback
  • 25:26 Draconian nature of U.S. export controls and sanctions


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