HONG KONG has done a fine job of showing the United States Customs that it is serious about stamping out illegal transshipment. One thing is certain: The Government has not heard the last from US authorities where commercial interests are concerned. The annual debate over the renewal of Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status for China is due to start in June, and we have certainly not heard the last word on the problem of rampant copyright abuse. Hong Kong's trade relations with the US have always been workable but not without their problems. This week's decision by US Customs to lift mandatory bonds on garments suspected of being illegally channelled through Hong Kong was a victory for the Trade Department, which has been expanding its resources to deal with the problem. The decision, hopefully, marks the end of a bitter dispute between the two sides that stared last June, when exporters and government officials saw red at the introduction of a bond requirement. US Customs also insisted that its officials be placed in Hong Kong garment factories, to satisfy themselves that exporters were not re-labelling garments 'Made in Hong Kong' when they had come from the mainland, artificially bloating quota rights. The suggestion was met by threats from senior Hong Kong officials to take the matter to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as the dispute escalated. There was an interesting outburst of rhetoric from Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen - better known for his defence of the territory from potential misrule, but using the kind of words seasoned Communist Party cadres would reserve for the US authorities. Mr Tsang accused the US Customs of being hegemonistic, barbaric and unreasonable. Last week, the US Customs said they were finally satisfied that Hong Kong was showing determination in its fight to stamp out any trading irregularities. The whole episode certainly showed how this speck of a colony won over a Goliath, with its dynamic approach to solving the problem. It also shows that Hong Kong is no longer a Mickey Mouse economy famous for its plastic flowers and toys. Rather, it has become an efficient and sophisticated economy. Nevertheless, with the Americans on their backs, the Trade Department will be forced to keep up the pressure on exporters to comply. Hong Kong, with China and Japan, will continue to feel the heat from the US so long as these economies export more than they import - widening their trade gap with the US. Allegations of Chinese involvement in raising money for the US Democratic Party promise to make the debate of China's MFN status extra hot this year. Anticipating pressure from right-wing groups in the US, the Hong Kong Government has calculated this year the damage non-renewal of MFN trading status for China would do the territory. The Trade and Industry Department has estimated that non-renewal would shave away almost half of Hong Kong's gross domestic product this year. Another spat Hong Kong and China have had with the US has been on intellectual property rights infringement. Again, Hong Kong has acted to stamp piracy of compact discs and software, the latter a result of enormous pressure by the Business Software Alliance. Piracy is probably the single most important outstanding problem the territory will have to face, unless, of course, China's MFN is not renewed. Whatever the Government might say it is doing, and whatever it does, it cannot be denied that it has not successfully stamped out piracy. How easy is it to buy pirated software, CDs, watches and clothes and accessories on the streets of Kowloon? Anyone who has been here five minutes will tell you the best places to go. If you want to buy a good copy Rolex, stroll down Nathan Road any day of the week. Don't worry about the police, the hawkers certainly don't. Yet this kind of activity - which is costing scores of companies millions of dollars a year in lost sales - is as blatant as sitting in the street sewing 'Made in Hong Kong' labels on to clothes made on the mainland.