Cleared By Customs: The U.S. Customs Service has removed the names of nine Hong Kong apparel and textile companies from a hit list of firms accused of illegally transshipping apparel and textiles, using fraudulent country of origin documents or using counterfeit visas to get into the country. If companies or owners have not committed violations for three years from the date the name was first put on the list, Customs automatically removes them. The companies removed from the list are: Ching Mee Garment Factory, Chu Wing Wa Bros., Euroworld, Everich Woolen, Fairyard Garment, Golden Land Garment, Kingsway Textile Factory, Trofer Garment and Way Fair Garment, according to Janet Labuda, director of Customs’ newly formed Textile & Enforcement Operations division.

U.S. Appeals WTO Export Ruling: The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Wednesday it will appeal a World Trade Organization ruling on the U.S. system of tax breaks for exporters, which the WTO claims amounts to an illegal subsidy. “The+issue is a sensitive one involving complex tax policy questions and the interests of many international companies,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said in a statement. “As I cautioned in May during a visit to Europe, there is a lot at stake and the United States will vigorously defend its interests.” The move could set the stage for a showdown with the European Union, which has sought WTO permission to retaliate on more than $4 billion worth of U.S. goods if the dispute is not settled.