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.
Blacklist, stricter checks for parallel-goods traders
Blacklist and stricter checks on the way, but multiple-entry permits won't be scrapped
Immigration officers will draw up a blacklist of parallel-goods traders and step up inspections, officials said yesterday.
Immigration Director Eric Chan Kwok-ki said the list would cover people who had been arrested in Hong Kong for such trading and it was unlikely they would be allowed back.
Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said officers would also conduct special checks on mainlanders suspected of being parallel-goods traders - people who legally buy goods in the city to smuggle over the border.
But the government has dismissed calls from some politicians to scrap or limit the multiple-entry permits given to Shenzhen permanent residents, warning it could harm tourism.
Lai said the administration had been in close contact with mainland authorities to crack down on parallel-goods trading, which has been disrupting residents in Sheung Shui and neighbouring communities.
He said the government would work with Guangdong's anti-smuggling office to strengthen co-operation, and devise "clearly targeted" strategies to snare suspects.
"If we discover some travellers are coming to Hong Kong frequently, especially within the same day, immigration officers will do special checks," Lai said.
People would be banned if they were suspicious and failed to explain why they were making so many trips.
On a radio programme, Chan, the immigration chief, said about 500 parallel-goods traders had been arrested in recent months and 90 prosecuted.
He said those who escaped prosecution would be put on the blacklist. The list would be shared with Guangdong authorities.
Last month, the provincial government said it would consider restricting multiple-entry permits.
Data shows traders who buy goods in Hong Kong for resale in Shenzhen without paying import tax account for 95 per cent of cross-border travellers holding such permits.
Politicians have suggested permits holders be banned from coming to Hong Kong more than twice a day.