United States trade officials are expected to take another month to decide whether to lift sanctions imposed on Hong Kong textile manufacturers to prevent alleged illegal transshipments. Deputy Director General of Trade Rebecca Lai Koo Wing-yee, who attended the top level trade talks in Washington last week, said US customs officials told her they needed more time to assess the situation. Mrs Lai's informal talks on the transshipments issue followed official discussions on rules of origin for textiles, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Textiles and Clothing and the use of US import data for quota accounting purposes. Mrs Lai said proposals were also being considered for a trans-Pacific electronic link-up for Hong Kong exporters that was likely to be based on the Tradelink Electronic Document Services. During January, US and Hong Kong customs officials undertook a four-week inspection of local textile manufacturers as part of their investigation into illegal exports. It was the second joint factory visit programme and is in addition to tough import measures on local exporters to the US. Mrs Lai said: 'I think the January visits gave them a positive impression of the Government's efforts and commitment to tackling breaches. They have not come to a positive conclusion about the size of the problem.' She said Hong Kong officials would 'continue their own efforts to stamp-out illegal practices'. In a separate move, Mrs Lai said there were plans to introduce electronic documentation services between the US and the territory within the next two years. The system, which would allow traders to send electronic applications, would do away with the present paper-based system. Mrs Lai said there were 'expressions of interest' from both sides about developing the system. She said: 'It is in the testing stage. We have not got to the stage of formal proposals.' On the issue of import data, both sides focused on making practical arrangements to minimise discrepancies between the data on both sides. There have been no cases where discrepancies between the data on the two sides have led to a US embargo on Hong Kong's goods. She said progress was also made on administrative arrangements with the US for the implementation of the WTO's agreement on textiles and clothing.