Parallel trading

Number of mainlanders refused entry to Hong Kong for suspected parallel trading drops by half

Figures released by security minister show significant effect of tighter rules for Shenzhen residents visiting city

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 November, 2016, 8:54am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 November, 2016, 8:56am

The number of mainlanders barred from entering Hong Kong for suspected involvement in parallel trading dropped by almost half, to 1,401 in March from 2,628 in April last year, after mainland authorities tightened their policy on Shenzhen residents visiting the city.

The number of cases involving mainlanders breaching the so-called milk ban also dropped to 153 in March, compared to 257 in April last year.

The monthly figures were released on Wednesday by security minister Lai Tung-kwok in his written reply to a question by Civic Party legislator Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu.

Shenzhen customs’ parallel trading crackdown has knock-on for local businesses

The influx of mainland tourists had become a source of friction in Hong Kong in recent years, triggering protests and clashes in the New Territories. Mainlanders were blamed for abusing the multi-entry system to flood in and buy up daily necessities, including infant formula.

The Hong Kong government cracked down on such activities, and a so-called “blacklist” of suspected parallel traders was also created by immigration authorities to bar them from entering Hong Kong.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying imposed a so-called milk ban in March 2013, barring anyone from taking more than two cans of infant formula across the border.

The Shenzhen authorities also introduced a measure in April last year to limit permanent residents to just one visit a week to Hong Kong.

No plan to lift two-can milk formula limit at the border, says Hong Kong health minister

According to Hong Kong Security Bureau figures, the number of mainlanders being turned back at control points for suspected involvement in parallel trading peaked at 2,867 in January last year, dropping steadily to 1,248 last December.

The number rose to 1,612 in January, then dropped to 1,090 the following month before going up again to 1,401 in March.

The number of cases involving mainlanders breaching the milk ban also dropped steadily from 363 in October 2014 to 91 in February. There were 153 such cases in March.

In his reply, Lai said the mainland policy of limiting Shenzhen residents’ visits to Hong Kong had “taken effect”.

Lai added: “Relevant departments will continue to closely monitor the situation and use various existing measures to crack down on parallel trading activities.”

He rejected calls for a special departure tax or fee on same-day round-trip visitors travelling by land.