LCQ16: Cross-boundary land transport arrangements amid the epidemic
To prevent and control the epidemic, the Shenzhen Municipal People's Government has implemented centralised transfer arrangements for cross-boundary land transport at Shenzhen ports since March 14 this year. Under the arrangements, Hong Kong cross-boundary goods vehicle drivers may only pick up and unload goods at designated transfer yards at the ports upon entry into Shenzhen. Some members of the logistics industry have indicated that the arrangements have brought negative impacts to the quantity and price of livelihood commodities supplied to Hong Kong and re-exported goods, and have caused the transport time and cost to double, which have greatly undermined the competitiveness of Hong Kong's logistics industry. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the respective volumes of air and sea cargoes re-exported by cross-boundary land transport in each month from January to June this year; the rates of change of such figures as compared with the relevant figures of the same periods in the past five years;
(2) whether the authorities have conducted surveys on the changes in the time and cost of cross-boundary land transport since the implementation of the aforesaid arrangements, and assessed the impacts on the local logistics industry and the losses to the economy brought about by such changes; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) whether it will consider requiring Hong Kong cross-boundary goods vehicle drivers to be subject to closed-loop management, and implementing the measure of affixing seals on vehicle doors to ensure that drivers are not allowed to get off their vehicles causally, in exchange for the Mainland's expeditious resumption of the original cross-boundary land transport arrangements; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government is very concerned about the impact of the fifth wave of the epidemic on the cross-boundary land cargo transport and the logistics supply chain between Guangdong and Hong Kong. The Task Force on Supplies from the Mainland of the HKSAR Government has been working closely with the Guangdong Provincial Government and the Shenzhen Municipal Government to improve the arrangements and enhance efficiency of cross-boundary cargo transport through various channels, with a view to ensuring a stable supply of goods from the Mainland to Hong Kong for the needs of the community and economic activities in Hong Kong. With the recent stabilisation of the epidemic, as well as the support and positive response from the Guangdong Provincial Government and the Shenzhen Municipal Government, the flow of cross-boundary goods vehicles (CBGVs) has gradually picked up recently. The HKSAR Government will continue to discuss with the Mainland authorities to allow Hong Kong CBGV drivers to drive directly to the operation points to pick up goods progressively, so as to improve the cargo volume and efficiency of cross-boundary land cargo transport.
Our reply to Hon Frankie Yick's question is as follows:
(1) Based on the available statistics from the HKSAR Government, the figures on the overall volume of cross-boundary land cargo, air cargo and water cargo in January to May this year are as follows:
|January 2022||February 2022||March 2022||April 2022||May 2022|
|Cross-boundary land cargo volume
|Air cargo volume*
|Water cargo volume
|1 221||1 051||1 434||1 520^||1 531^|
(^) Provisional figures
Sources: Customs and Excise Department; Civil Aviation Department; Census and Statistics Department
As shown from the above figures, there has been a gradual improvement in respect of cross-boundary land cargo volume since April this year.
The HKSAR Government only maintains relevant figures on the overall (including inward and outward) volume of cross-boundary land cargo, air cargo and water cargo as abovementioned. There is no statistics on the transhipped air and water cargo volume via cross-boundary land transport.
Due to the pandemic and moderation in the global economy, the overall volume of cross-boundary land cargo, air cargo and water cargo in the first five months this year recorded decreases of 51.0 per cent, 7.9 per cent and 6.4 per cent respectively compared to the same period a year earlier (i.e. the first five months of 2021).
(2) The HKSAR Government has been closely monitoring the impact on the Mainland supplies to Hong Kong resulting from the cargo transfer arrangement implemented by the Mainland authorities since mid-March this year amid the need for pandemic prevention and control. In March this year, Hong Kong's total merchandise trade value decreased by 7.4 per cent (decreased by about HK$62.4 billion) year-on-year. Within this, trade value by land shrank by 49.4 per cent (decreased by about HK$184.7 billion) year-on-year. Due to the disruption in land transport, some cargo was diverted to the water route, and hence trade value by water increased by 56.9 per cent (increased by about HK$63.5 billion) compared to the same period a year earlier, while trade value by air likewise increased by 16.4 per cent (increased by about HK$58.7 billion), partly offsetting the impact of land transport disruption on cross-boundary cargo flows.
In tandem with the gradual relaxation in the cargo transfer quota in the Mainland, Hong Kong's total merchandise trade value rose back somewhat in April by 1.6 per cent (increased by about HK$13.1 billion) year-on-year, and was on par with the year-ago level in May. Within this, the trade value by land cargo also saw narrower year-on-year rates of decline in April and May, at 31.7 per cent (decreased by about HK$108.0 billion) and 25.3 per cent (decreased by about HK$88.9 billion) respectively.
In addition to the gradual improvement in the land cargo value and volume, with the HKSAR Government's efforts to follow up with the Guangdong Provincial Government and the Shenzhen Municipal Government and the positive response received from the relevant authorities, the flow of CBGVs in recent months has gradually rebounded to a daily average of nearly 9 000 vehicle trips, similar to the number of vehicle trips when the fifth wave of the epidemic first broke out in February this year. The HKSAR Government will continue to discuss with the Mainland authorities on measures to further improve the existing arrangements and enhance the efficiency of cross-boundary land cargo transport.
(3) The HKSAR Government has been maintaining close liaison with the Mainland authorities and the CBGV industry, actively exploring with the Mainland authorities options to improve cross-boundary land transport so as to ensure smooth cross-boundary transport, and reflecting to the Mainland authorities the views of the Hong Kong CBGV industry on cross-boundary land transport arrangements in a timely manner. With the active arrangement of the relevant Mainland authorities, the waiting time for Hong Kong CBGV drivers to enter the cargo transfer yards at the Mainland has been greatly shortened recently, while the resting facilities in the cargo transfer yards for Hong Kong CBGV drivers have also been improved.
To reduce the risk of epidemic transmission in the Mainland, the HKSAR Government has also adopted a series of measures to effectively control the epidemic. Since February 28 this year, the Transport Department (TD) has already arranged for dedicated staff to conduct rapid antigen tests for CBGV drivers at various land boundary control points (BCPs). Only drivers with a negative result are allowed to enter the Mainland. In order to further improve the accuracy of the tests, the TD has already switched to use rapid nucleic acid tests at the BCPs since March 20. Starting from April 21, the sampling method for rapid nucleic acid tests has been further changed to nasopharyngeal swabs. During the period from February 28 to June 30, 1 212 cases tested preliminarily positive or indeterminate have been successfully intercepted from entering the Mainland at various land BCPs in Hong Kong. The TD has also passed these cases to the Department of Health for follow-up.
In addition, the TD has taken stringent measures to strengthen control over Hong Kong CBGV drivers and their transport companies. Since February 25 this year, if the TD is informed that a Hong Kong CBGV driver has violated the epidemic prevention and control as well as health management measures in Guangdong and Hong Kong, the TD will cancel the Closed Road Permit of the vehicle driven by the driver concerned at that moment and, depending on the severity of the violation, the TD will not re-issue the Close Road Permit for a maximum of three months, and the vehicle concerned also cannot use various land BCPs to go to the Mainland.
After adopting the above measures, the TD has noticed that the number of positive cases of Hong Kong CBGV drivers found in the Mainland and the number of drivers punished by the Mainland authorities for violating the Mainland's epidemic prevention and control regulations have significantly reduced.
Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government will continue to encourage Hong Kong CBGV drivers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Currently, the vast majority of drivers have already received the third dose vaccine. As at June 30 this year, 8 643 drivers have received the third dose vaccine and 957 drivers have received the fourth dose vaccine.
The HKSAR Government will closely monitor the effectiveness of the above epidemic control measures and make timely adjustments as necessary to minimise the risk of epidemic transmission. The HKSAR Government will also continue to follow up with the Mainland authorities with a view to resuming the arrangement for Hong Kong CBGV drivers to drive directly to the Mainland operation points to pick up goods, so as to resume the cargo volume and efficiency of cross-boundary land cargo transport to the pre-epidemic level as soon as possible to support the needs of various economic production activities.
Ends/Wednesday, July 13, 2022
Issued at HKT 14:28
Issued at HKT 14:28