Hong Kong - Country Commercial Guide
Strategic Trade Controls for Exports to Hong Kong

Includes the U.S. government export controls that companies need to abide by when exporting to this country

Last published date: 2021-03-12

The U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) regulates the export, re-export, of commodities, software and technology (collectively “items”) falling under the jurisdiction of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).  Other U.S. Government agencies regulate trade in more specialized exports, as well.  For example, the U.S. Department of State regulates the trade in defense articles and services.  A list of other agencies involved in export control can be found on the BIS website.

or in Supplement No. 3 to Part 730 of the EAR, which is available on the Government Printing Office website.

U.S. exporters should consult the EAR for information on how export license requirements may apply to the export of their goods.  If necessary, a commodity classification request may be submitted in order to obtain BIS assistance in determining how an item is controlled (i.e., the item’s classification) and the applicable licensing policy.  Exporters may also request a written advisory opinion from BIS about application of the EAR to a specific situation.  Information on commodity classifications, advisory opinions, and export licenses can be obtained through the BIS website at https://www.bis.doc.gov/ or by contacting the Office of Exporter Services at the following numbers:

Washington, D.C. Tel: (202) 482-4811 Fax: (202) 482-3322

Western Regional Office Tel: (949) 660-0144 Fax: (949) 660-9347

Further information on export controls is available at: http://www.bis.doc.gov/licensing/exportingbasics.htm.

Due to Hong Kong’s position as a global transshipment hub, exporters of regulated items must be particularly diligent when exporting sensitive items to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, it is relatively easy for foreign actors to pretend to be doing business from Hong Kong, even when they are located elsewhere and only using Hong Kong’s robust trade infrastructure to route trade to more restricted destinations. To ensure compliance with U.S. export control laws, companies should conduct due diligence research on regulated shipments to clients in Hong Kong and should thoroughly validate all information about their trading partners to determine with reasonable certainty whether the items will remain in Hong Kong or be reexported to other countries, which may change U.S. licensing obligations.

On December 23, 2020, BIS published a regulatory amendment confirming that exports, reexports and transfers (in-country) to Hong Kong will be treated under the EAR as transactions destined for the People’s Republic of China (China), unless otherwise explicitly specified.  This treatment includes a general policy of denial for law enforcement equipment and firearms controlled for Crime Control reasons pursuant to the Tiananmen Square Sanctions (Section 902(a)(4) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1990 and 1991, Public Law 101-246). Prior to this change, Hong Kong and Mainland China were treated separately under U.S. Commerce Department regulations, with trade going to Hong Kong subject to fewer license requirements and eligible for more general authorizations than that going to Mainland China.  In light of this change, exporters and reexporters of regulated items, including electronics and other sensitive goods, should ensure that their licensing obligations have not changed.

The amendments notwithstanding, there remains in place certain recordkeeping requirements for multilaterally controlled items destined to and from Hong Kong.  These recordkeeping requirements obligate persons intending to export or reexport to Hong Kong any item subject to the EAR and on the Commerce Control List (CCL) for national security (NS), missile technology(MT), nuclear nonproliferation (NP column 1), or chemical and biological weapons (CB) reasons to obtain, prior to the shipment of such items, a copy of a Hong Kong import license or a written statement from the Hong Kong government that such a license is not required, including website guidance from the Hong Kong Trade and Industry Department (HKTID). This rule also applies to individuals intending to reexport from Hong Kong items controlled for the previous stated reasons, to obtain a Hong Kong export license or statement from the Hong Kong government that such a license is not required, including website guidance from HKTID, prior to shipment. The items for which Hong Kong requires a license and the previous stated items controlled under the EAR are based on the same multilateral regime control lists.

BIS has developed a list of “red flags,” or warning signs, to help exporters evaluate the diversion risk related to their transaction, and has identified some persons in Hong Kong that cannot be verified as reliable end-users or that are affirmatively engaging in conduct contrary to national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. Other agencies of the U.S. government have also added persons in Hong Kong to various lists of sanctioned entities.  The Consolidated Screening List consolidates eleven export screening lists of the Departments of Commerce, State and the Treasury into a single search as an aid to industry in conducting electronic screens of potential parties to regulated transactions is available here:

https://www.trade.gov/consolidated-screening-list

In addition to U.S. strategic trade controls, Hong Kong maintains its own strategic trade control system, requiring licenses for the import or export of items commonly found on internationally-supported strategic trade control lists, including those adopted by the United States. Hong Kong’s licensing system is administered by the Trade and Industry Department, and applications for licenses in Hong Kong may require evidence that a shipment from the United States has been lawfully made. Hong Kong has also created due diligence guides to aid foreign companies in researching Hong Kong companies

https://www.stc.tid.gov.hk/english/hksarsys/files/leaflet.pdf 

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security maintains an office in Hong Kong. It can be contacted at:

Regional Export Control Office

American Consulate General, U.S. Commercial Service

26 Garden Road, Central

Hong Kong (SAR)

Tel: (852) 2521-1467

Fax: (852) 2845-9800

www.trade.gov/hongkong/