EEC - Quantitative Restrictions Against Imports of Certain Products from Hong Kong

Other titles

EEC Import Restrictions (Source: GATT Analytical Index)


Third Parties

Products at Issue

Products at issue
Knitwear and clothing other than of cotton, man-made fibers and wool; umbrellas; radios and radio parts; pleasures and sports boats for marine use; compound optical microscopes; toys and toy parts; electronic watches with piezo (electric quartz crystal regulating device)
Type of product
Product sub-type
Textiles and Apparel

Related disputes


Key legal aspects

Legal basis
  • GATT Article XXIII:1
Claims raised
  • GATT Article I
  • GATT Article XI
  • GATT Article XIII
Defences raised
  • n.a.


Type Panel
Chairperson Richard Hochörtler (Austria)
Other members Alberto Dumont (Argentina), D. J. Greenfield (New Zealand)


Type Panel
Legal basis at issue
  • GATT Article XXIII:1
Claims at issue
  • GATT Article I
  • GATT Article XI
  • GATT Article XIII
Defences at issue
  • n.a.
No of Pages (total / legal reasoning) 11 (and 10 annex)
  • -
  • Not in report conclusions
  • Inconsistency found
  • Judicial economy exercised
  • -


Outcome of the proceedings
Report adopted
Additional Info L/5511 (01/07/1983) Panel on Quantitative Restrictions Against Imports of Certain Products from Hong Kong – Report of the Panel: The Panel considered the matter regarding quantitative restrictions maintained by the Government of France. The Panel noted that restrictions on all categories of product covered by the complaint had been maintained de jure since 1944, by virtue of a decree that had not been notified to the GATT as being covered by the Protocol of Provisional Application of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. From time to time certain adaptations have been made, on the basis of a licensing system, including restrictions applicable to a number of countries, bilateral quotas, and an SLQ regime without quantitative limitation. With regard to Article XI the Panel acknowledged that there exists quantitative restrictions which are maintained for other than balance-of-payments reasons. It recognized that restrictions had been in existence for a long time without Article XXIII ever having been invoked by Hong Kong in regard to the products concerned, but concluded that this did not alter the obligations which contracting parties had accepted under GATT provisions. Furthermore, the Panel considered it would be erroneous to interpret the fact that a measure had not been subject to Article XXIII over a number of years, as tantamount to its tacit acceptance by contracting parties. In fact, contracting parties and in particular Hong Kong have made it clear that the discussions on quantitative restrictions which have taken place in the GATT over the years were without prejudice to the legal status of the measures or the rights and obligations of GATT contracting parties. The Panel observed that, while most of the measures had been notified to the GATT in the past, the measures on watches had not been notified. The Panel concluded that all product categories were subject to quantitative restrictions within the meaning of the General Agreement. The Panel noted that Hong Kong, under certain product categories, was subject to an SLQ regime. The Panel observed that this regime had been described as a suspension - which was provisional and could be revoked at any time - of strict quota limitation but that the SLQ regime was an import licensing procedure which would amount to a quantitative restriction unless it provided for the automatic issuance of licences and that the EC itself referred to the products concerned as subject to quantitative restrictions. The Panel further noted that no GATT justification had been advanced for the quantitative restrictions, and concluded that the relevant provisions of Article XI were not complied with. With regard to Article XIII it was apparent to the Panel that the French measures were not applied uniformly to all contracting parties (e.g. there is a differentiation between suppliers depending on their categorization in different geographical zones, and in addition the French import regime included various measures which differed in scope and content for different suppliers). The Panel was of the opinion that the evidence presented by the parties raised questions regarding the consistency of the application of the French regime with the provisions of Article XIII. However, the Panel considered it unnecessary to go further into this question as it had already found that the relevant provisions of Article XI were not complied with. In view of the above, the Panel found that there was an infringement of obligations assumed under the General Agreement in Article XI and that this infringement had to be considered prima facie to constitute a case of nullification or impairment of benefits accruing to Hong Kong under the General Agreement.