The influx of parallel traders who buy their stock tax-free in Hong Kong to resell it in mainland China at a profit is causing growing unrest. Residents of Sheung Shui, a town close to China's border, say the increase in parallel importers has pushed up retail prices and causes a general nuisance. Importers argue that their trade benefits the Hong Kong economy.
MTR limits luggage weight to combat parallel traders
The MTR Corporation will restrict the weight of passengers’ luggage at four stations near the border from next week, to crack down on parallel-goods traders, the railway announced on Friday.
Beginning on Tuesday, a new rule will ban passengers from carrying luggage weighing over 32 kilograms onto trains in Sheung Shui, Fanling, Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau.
Electronic scales will be placed outside station entrances, and MTR officers will weigh heavy-looking luggage before travellers can enter.
If passengers refuse to have their luggage weighed, they can be denied entry, given a warning or even prosecuted.
MTR Corp’s head of operations, Francis Li, said the new measure was designed to complement an existing rule limiting the size of luggage, to stop passengers transporting parallel goods in large amounts.
“We have to keep the impact of luggage on other passengers under control, and make sure passengers complete their journeys free of inconvenience and interference,” Li said.
Parallel traders stock up on products ranging from baby milk formula, red wine and smartphones in Hong Kong, then resell them on the mainland at a profit.
Residents of Sheung Shui protested last month against the crowds of traders, saying they crowded Hongkongers out of MTR stations and nearby areas. That protest prompted the continuing official crackdown on traders.