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.
Parallel importers scoff at baggage weight limit
People who lug boxes of goods across border crossings say new weight rule won't stand in their way
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Defiant mainland parallel importers said yesterday they would carry on their trade between Hong Kong and Shenzhen despite the MTR Corporation imposing a baggage weight limit.
Some of the 30 traders gathered at Sheung Shui said the 32kg limit being introduced today could cause chaos in crowded stations as passengers would have to line up to have their bags weighed.
They also predicted outbursts of anger from ordinary tourists on their way home with bags full of shopping if they were forced to leave some items behind. "Scuffles will probably break out," one woman said.
Under the rule, introduced as part of efforts to curb the activities of parallel traders, passengers passing through the wide luggage gates at four busy stations near the border - Sheung Shui, Fanling, Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau - must have their bags weighed.
Those exceeding the weight limit will be asked to use another form of transportation.
Previous rules allowed a single piece of baggage of up to 170 sq cm with no weight limit.
"I will keep coming," one Shenzhen man declared. "The station will definitely be crowded tomorrow with many people waiting in line to have their baggage weighed. Let's see how many staff are needed."
Sixty-four cans of milk formula - a sought-after product for the traders - can fit into a 170 sq cm bag but with the weight limit they will be able to carry only 35. Similarly a trader who once could carry 12 packs of boxed drinks will be able to take only four.
A woman importer said the new rules would cause "so much trouble" for traders and tourists alike.
"How parallel traders cope with new rule" Video by Hedy Bok
"Actually the mainland tourists carry a lot more goods than we do. What are they going to do when they find out there is a weight limit when they arrive at the station entrance? The MTR just can't ask them to throw away their goods."
Passengers who insist on passing through the gate with an overweight bag can be fined HK$2,000.
Several other importers said they would separate their goods into smaller boxes and simply make more trips.
But one woman said she might have to give up the business and get a job back in Shenzhen. Even if she could carry her goods into a train she fears she could not get them into Shenzhen because police there have been cracking down on the trade.