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Parallel trading

Bid to lift Hong Kong ‘milk ban’ backfired, Liberal Party leader admits after localist protesters return to streets

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 September, 2015, 4:07pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 2:38pm

A high-profile drive launched last week by the pro-business Liberal Party to press the government to lift a so-called "milk ban" has collapsed, with the party leader saying it would no longer pursue the issue.

Party leader Vincent Fang Kang, a lawmaker representing the retail sector, conceded his party's calls to ease a limit on the amount of formula milk an individual can take out of the city had backfired and instead stoked anti-mainland sentiment.

"After we raised the issue last week, protests against cross-border parallel trading resumed," said Fang, who alongside party colleagues met Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung yesterday.

"The return of such protests could serve a big blow to our retail sector. So, in view of this, I told [Leung] we would stop pushing for the lifting of the milk ban."

On Sunday, protesters marched in Sheung Shui against traders from the mainland.

Without warning, Fang last week pushed the government to lift restrictions limiting outbound travellers to two tins of formula, saying it had resulted in tense Hong Kong-mainland relations and played a part in declining retail sales.

The limit was imposed in March 2013 amid shortages of certain brands. The surge in demand was widely attributed to the boom in parallel-goods trading - the practice of buying goods in Hong Kong for resale across the border.

The party also suggested at yesterday's meeting that the government set up a fund to help suppliers affected by the collapse of retail chain DSC last month.