RON Brown, United States Secretary of State for Commerce, and his high powered entourage of US businessmen must be feeling highly pleased with themselves this morning. With his delegation being able to announce US$5 billion worth of orders from China, Mr Brown has certainly lived up to his title. Let us hope he is not too offended if the applause from certain sections of Hong Kong is a little muted. As echoes of Hail to the Chief fade away, Mr Brown can expect to find himself being questioned rather than feted. Not about human rights. Hong Kong recognises that initiatives on this front have been de-coupled from trade. It is Washington's intentions on free trade which require clarification. The US is repeatedly being accused of talking the talk, but refusing to walk the walk on open borders, and Hong Kong and other Asian economies are suffering. Mr Brown should pay careful attention to the concerns being voiced in the region about proposed changes to the rules on origin of imports into the US - particularly textiles. The planned shift from counting quotas according to where the goods are initially produced, rather than finished, is going to put Hong Kong right in the middle of a conflict between the US and China. Such an approach obviously fails to recognise the huge changes which have taken place in the structure of Asia's economy and the dispersal of manufacturing facilities around the region. Mr Brown will certainly be told that the new rules of origin amount to little more than protectionism. He should also be careful in what he says about dumping. For Hong Kong's trade bodies are pointing out that the country which has always been so firm on dumping is finding itself on the receiving end of anti-dumping action. This trend may encourage Mr Brown to listen sympathetically to the call for a task force to study the real economic impact of anti-dumping measures put out by the eminent persons group of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum. American consumers would certainly welcome the removal of US protection against imports of cheaper cars and garments, which currently suffer from the tariff barriers which form part of Washington's anti-dumping policies.