Parallel trading

Leung defends tough measures to stop cross-border traders

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 February, 2013, 4:51pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 February, 2013, 8:56pm

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Saturday defended new government measures to limit the amount of infant milk formula allowed to leave Hong Kong – saying they were harsh but necessary.

“I know some of the measures are what people would call ‘ruthless’, but we believe they are needed to achieve our objective [of ensuring Hong Kong babies get what they need],” Leung said.

On Friday, the government announced the new plans aimed at curbing mainland traders in infant milk powder, which has led to shortages in the city.

Among them is the two can or 1.8kg limit, imposed under a legislative amendment expected to take effect this month. Those found guilty of breaking the rule could face seven years in jail or be fined up to HK$2 million.

Leung was asked whether similar measures might be applied to other goods facing shortages due to parallel trading. He said the government “would monitor the situation closely and do what is necessary to ensure Hong Kongers’ needs were met first”.

Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said police would work closely with other government departments to control parallel traders.

Tsang told local radio that the milk formula shortage was related to parallel trading.

Under the new measures, mainlanders who repeatedly travel across the border with bulky packages could be blacklisted by the Immigration Department, with their names passed to Shenzhen authorities.

Also, the MTR Corporation will tighten the weight limit for passenger luggage from the current 32kg to 23kg from Monday.

Meanwhile, a 24-hour government hotline set up on Friday for local parents to order milk formula brands has received over 2,000 inquiries. Around 1,000 of the inquiries were passed on to brand suppliers.