LCQ12: Export of bird's nest products to Mainland
According to the Catalogue of Animals and Plants, and Animal and Plant Products Prohibited from being Carried or Posted into the People's Republic of China (the Catalogue), which came into effect on March 2, 2012, aquatic animal products are prohibited from being carried or posted into the Mainland. In addition, there are restrictions on the quantity of daily necessities and health food products that may be carried into the Mainland by travellers of Chinese nationality, and the relevant quotas have not been raised since 1996. A number of practitioners in the dried seafood industry have relayed to me that such requirements have severely dampened the desire of Mainland residents visiting Hong Kong to buy dried seafood, thus seriously affecting their businesses. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) given that the Catalogue provides for an exemption that: "[t]he animals and plants and their products and other quarantine objects carried or posted into the country, approved by the relevant national administrative departments, with the quarantine certificate issued by the competent authorities of the exporting country or region, are not affected by the [C]atalogue", whether the Government will discuss with the Mainland authorities the setting up of a quarantine system in Hong Kong which is recognised by the Mainland authorities under which dried seafood sold in Hong Kong may be exempted from the restrictions of the Catalogue; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) whether it knows the local quarantine objects which are currently exempted from the restrictions of the Catalogue; whether any quarantine object will be exempted in the near future; if so, of the details and implementation timetable; whether any request for exemption was made by practitioners of the trade in the past five years; if so, of the details and outcome;
(3) given that in reply to a relevant question raised by me on 14th June last year, the Secretary for Food and Health indicated that the Government would closely monitor the developments regarding the imposition of entry requirements by the Mainland authorities on Mainland travellers, of the Government's follow-up work in the past six months and the achievements made;
(4) whether the Government will propose to the Mainland authorities, in light of the increased demand and purchasing power of Mainland residents, raising the quotas and the ceiling values applicable to such quotas in respect of the daily necessities and health food products which Mainland travellers may carry into the Mainland; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(5) as the Chief Executive has indicated in the Policy Address she delivered recently that the Government should take up the role of a facilitator and a promoter and conduct "government-to-government" lobbying, how the Food and Health Bureau and the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau implement those governance philosophies to help the dried seafood industry and other industries resolve the aforesaid difficulties?
In consultation with the relevant policy bureau and department, I provide a consolidated reply to the various parts of the question as follows:
(1) to (3) According to the "Catalogue of Animals and Plants, and Animal and Plant Products Prohibited from being Carried or Posted into the People's Republic of China" (the Catalogue) revised by the Mainland authorities in 2012, products and quarantine items including aquatic animal products and bird's nest (except canned bird's nest) are prohibited from being carried and posted into the Mainland for the purposes of preventing animal and plant diseases and pests from spreading into the Mainland and protecting the production of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fishery as well as public health and safety on the Mainland. This restriction applies to all exporting places, including Hong Kong.
Over the past five years, the local bird's nest trade has raised the concern with the Government that the Mainland authorities' inclusion of bird's nests in the Catalogue has caused certain impact on the trade. In this connection, we have communicated with the relevant Mainland authorities and relayed the requests from the local trade for exporting bird's nest products to the Mainland, and have been following up on the issue. We have reached a consensus in principle with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People's Republic of China on the arrangement of the inspection, quarantine and sanitary requirements for the import of bird's nest products from Hong Kong. Moreover, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has been actively following up with the Mainland authorities regarding the carrying and posting of bird's nest products into the Mainland with a view to finalising the arrangements as soon as possible. After finalising the details of the two aforesaid arrangements, we will sign a formal agreement with the Mainland authorities and inform the trade accordingly as soon as possible.
(4) and (5) As the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau understands it, according to Announcement No. 54 of 2010 of the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China (GACC), passengers who are Mainland residents may bring into the Mainland free of duty personal-use articles acquired from other places with a total value not exceeding RMB 5,000 (except for articles subject to duties otherwise specified by the Mainland). Personal-use articles brought into the Mainland exceeding the said value are subject to duties payable to GACC. The requirements stipulated in the above GACC's Announcement are applicable to all Mainland residents entering the Mainland from different places (including Hong Kong).
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has conveyed to the Mainland authority the views of the local dried seafood industry on the duty-free concession as stipulated in the above Announcement on personal-use articles brought into the Mainland by passengers who are Mainland residents, and will continue to keep in view relevant developments closely.
Ends/Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Issued at HKT 16:20
Issued at HKT 16:20