The health minister yesterday rejected lawmakers' calls for a sunset clause to end the two-tin daily limit on infant formula that people can take out of Hong Kong.
But Dr Ko Wing-man promised legislators that the government would review the measure after it had sorted out a system with suppliers and retailers to ensure a more stable supply.
In a rare show of support, opposition lawmakers threw their support behind the two-tin limit, which has been criticised by China's state-owned newspaper Global Times as resembling a "United Nations sanction".
Democrat James To Kun-sun supported the curb as a short-term remedy, but said a sunset clause would help by forcing "the government to do a review". Ko dismissed the suggestion for fear it could spark more shortages.
Radical People Power's diehard government critic Raymond Chan Chi-chuen defended the government, saying: "The new measure just started last week. Let's give it a try first."
Only two legislators - independent Paul Tse Wai-chun and Liberal Chung Kwok-pan - spoke up against the curb yesterday, saying that it was against the spirit of free trade.
The two-tin cap, imposed this month, aims to prevent a shortage of infant formula in Hong Kong, widely blamed on large-scale re-exports to the mainland by parallel-goods traders.