The Government gazetted today (February 22) the Import and Export (General)(Amendment) Regulation 2013 (the Amendment Regulation) to prohibit the export of powdered formula (including milk powder and soya milk powder) for infants and young children under 36 months (powdered formula) from Hong Kong except with a licence issued by the Director-General of Trade and Industry (DGTI).
A Government spokesman said, "The Government considers that the recent supply chain failure in relation to powdered formula is closely related to parallel trading activities. The huge demand of parallel traders often leads to serious shortage in certain brands of powdered formula for local mothers. The Amendment Regulation aims to combat the problem of parallel traders diverting large quantities of powdered formula away from the supply chain in Hong Kong."
The Amendment Regulation amends the Import and Export (General) Regulations (Cap. 60, sub. leg. A) by including powdered formula as an item of specified articles in the second column of Schedule 2 so that an export licence must be obtained from the DGTI issued under section 3 of the Import and Export Ordinance (Cap. 60) to export such articles (unless otherwise provided for in the legislation).
Any person who contravenes the relevant provision shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of $500,000 and to imprisonment for two years.
"The Trade and Industry Department would in general issue export licences only to importers of 'infant/follow-up/growing-up formula (for baby up to 36 months)' who have registered under the Food Safety Ordinance or those importers exempted under section 4(3)(a) of the Food Safety Ordinance from the registration requirement. On application, applicants are required to submit import documents to prove that the batch of powdered formula concerned is directly imported from other places.
"Since the existing Food Safety Ordinance has stipulated that a person who imports food in the course of business must keep records of acquisition of imported food, we believe that this requirement would not impose an additional burden on importers. Also, Hong Kong has been exercising export control over a range of commodities for different policy reasons. In general, the introduction of an export licensing system on powdered formula will not have an impact on Hong Kong's free trade status," the spokesman added.
Having regard to the need of those leaving Hong Kong for powdered formula for personal use, the Government proposes that not more than a total net weight of 1.8 kilograms of powdered formula may be carried by each person aged 16 (the statutory minimum age for getting married in Hong Kong) or above. In general, the maximum net weight of a can of powdered formula is 0.9kg. This means that each person may take two cans under the Amendment Regulation. The purpose of inserting the age limit is to prevent children from being used to carry such powdered formula in parallel trading activities. The spokesman pointed out that the 1.8kg exemption should only be applicable to a person on his or her first departure from Hong Kong within a 24-hour period.
The Government is mindful that the 24-hour period restriction may cause inconvenience in some exceptional cases. As such, the Amendment Regulation provides an exception to allow a person (aged 16 or above), who left Hong Kong one or more times in the last 24 hours, to carry powdered formula, provided that (i) he or she travels with an infant or young child aged under 36 months; (ii) the powdered formula is in an unsealed container; and (iii) the quantity does not exceed a reasonable quantity for consumption by the infant or child during the travelling time from the Hong Kong point of exit to the next point of entry in a place outside Hong Kong.
The Amendment Regulation will be tabled at the Legislative Council on February 27 for negative vetting. The Amendment Regulation will commence on March 1, 2013.
Ends/Friday, February 22, 2013
Issued at HKT 20:14