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.
Milk curb review in one year, says Lam
The restriction on exports of powdered milk for babies will be reviewed in one year, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said yesterday, adding that the policy was not meant to single out mainlanders.
Speaking in Guangzhou after meeting provincial officials, she said the review would assess the impact of the rule on the supply of infant formula in the city.
"We will definitely do follow-up work and supervision [over the policy]," she said, adding that the SAR government would continue to work with mainland authorities to improve checks on organised smuggling.
Some mainlanders have been outraged at the new rule that allows adults to carry only two tins, or 1.8kg, of infant formula out of Hong Kong.
They said the legislation is discriminatory and too harsh.
Others accused Beijing of failing to ensure the safety and quality of food sold on the mainland, thereby forcing people to cross the border to buy daily items.
Lam was in Guangzhou yesterday for the 18th conference on Hong Kong-Guangdong collaboration that discussed issues such as the environment and trade.
She said the milk export restriction was a "last-resort" measure as local parents were panicking about a shortage of formula. "It was because parallel trading was very vibrant during the Lunar New Year holidays, causing panic among parents," she said.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will leave for the mainland today on a five-day trip during which he will attend the closing ceremony of the first session of the 12th National People's Congress.
It is understood he will also discuss the multiple-entry permits scheme as well as the curb on milk powder exports.