Influx of mainland traders to have bad effect on New Territories economy

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 September, 2012, 1:39am

I think the decision to grant multi-entry permits to non-permanent residents of Shenzhen will cause a lot of problems.

First, the huge influx of mainland tourists will raise shop rents in the New Territories. For example, many mainlanders flock to the pharmacies and supermarkets in Sheung Shui to buy medicine and infant formula.

They are willing to buy in bulk and spend a lot, and as a consequence prices in some stores in Sheung Shui have already gone up. With this further relaxation of entry rules, I do not see how small stores can cope with soaring rents. They will face a heavy financial burden whether their premises are on the street or in a mall. We will see skyrocketing prices in the northern New Territories.

I am also concerned about the problem of grey-market products near the Lo Wu border crossing into Hong Kong. Some mainlanders earn money by buying these products, such as shampoo and nappies, at shops in the northern New Territories. Then they cross the border with their products. With many more multiple-entry visitors, this problem will become more severe, with the prices of daily necessities going up. Residents in the northern New Territories will be adversely affected by price hikes, and for some of them it will be harder to make ends meet.

I also think there will be transport problems. Some mainlanders carry these grey-market products to MTR stations before going through immigration. They have bulky packages that exacerbate overcrowding in train carriages. Eventually the trains will reach capacity thanks to increasing volumes of luggage. This will create difficulties for Hongkongers from these areas who commute by MTR to and from school and work.

I accept the increase in visitors will be good for hotels and restaurants, but the overall Hong Kong economy will suffer.

Ng Sin-ying, Sha Tin