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Import and Export (Amendment) Bill 2023 for transhipment of alternative smoking products to be gazetted on Friday
     ​The Import and Export (Amendment) Bill 2023 will be gazetted this Friday (March 24) to amend the Import and Export Ordinance (Cap. 60) (IEO), with consequential amendments to the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance (Cap. 371) (SPHO), with a view to refining the control and regulatory regime relating to the transhipment of alternative smoking products (ASPs) from the Mainland via Hong Kong to other overseas markets.
     At present, the SPHO already provides for exemptions for ASPs which are articles in transit or air transhipment cargoes. The Bill proposes to include in the exemption the intermodal ASP transhipment, both sea-to-air and land-to-air mode, via Hong Kong under a newly added part to the IEO. A new control scheme will also be created under the administration, supervision and enforcement by the Customs and Excise Department to enhance the monitoring and supervision of intermodal ASP transhipment, thereby reducing the risk of ASP leakage into the local market during the course of intermodal transhipment in Hong Kong. The penalty level for the offence of importing ASPs will also be raised to make it on par with that for the illegal import of prohibited articles under the IEO to further strengthen regulation on intermodal ASP transhipment.
     A spokesman for the Transport and Logistics Bureau today (March 22) said, "While it remains the Government's stance to prohibit ASPs from entering the local market due to its harmful nature, we notice that the ban of intermodal ASP transhipment since April 30, 2022, has caused substantial loss to Hong Kong's air cargo transhipment business. Hence, intermodal ASP transhipment should be exempted under a new regulatory regime on the premise that ASP leakage into the local market is duly prevented."
     "The legislative proposal has already balanced the Government's strenuous effort in tobacco control and the imminent need to maintain our logistics and air cargo transhipment business in order to preserve Hong Kong's position as an international aviation hub under the 'Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People's Republic of China and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035'," the spokesman added.
     The Bill also proposes to transfer the offence of importing ASPs originally under the SPHO to the new part of the IEO, so as to enhance clarity of the entire regulatory regime.
     The Government has consulted the Panel on Economic Development of the Legislative Council (LegCo), the Hong Kong Logistics Development Council as well as the trading and logistics sector, and received general support for the introduction of the Bill into the LegCo. The Government will continue to engage relevant stakeholders including the medical and health groups to alleviate their concerns about the control and regulation of intermodal ASP transhipment and to reinforce the Government's commitment in enforcing the import ban for ASPs.

     The Bill will be introduced into the LegCo on March 29.
Ends/Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Issued at HKT 16:20
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