End looming for Hong Kong formula restrictions

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Hong kong, Milk

End looming for Hong Kong formula restrictions
Hong Kong is on course to lift its long-running restrictions on the export of infant formula, a senior politician has revealed.

Quoted by Xinhua, Ko Wing-man, Hong Kong’s secretary for food and health, the temporary regulations are on schedule to end in October, although the government will determine then whether milk suppliers can ensure an adequate supply for residents.

An industry expert, meanwhile, said a continuation of the ban would be politically insensitive, and its lifting would be of interest to both Hong Kong businesses and Chinese mainland residents.

Avoid discrimination

Wang Dingmian, former vice-chairman of the Guangdong Dairy Industry Association, told the Chinese state news service: "Hong Kong probably will lift the limit soon, and one of the major reasons is that the ban has triggered concern from the mainland that it is a form of discrimination​," Wang said.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's government also needs to consider the interests of the city's milk dealers, whose businesses have suffered over the past few months because of the limit, he added.

The ban, which limits adults from taking more than two cans of infant formula - or 1.8kg in total - out of Hong Kong without approval, has been in place since March 1. Offenders face a fine of up to HK$500,000 (US$64,444) and two years in jail.

Restoring stability

Hong Kong's milk powder supply has been stable since the government launched the baby formula export limit, Secretary Ko said.

The government has set up a committee to work with industry insiders and people in other related sectors to improve the local supply chain of milk powder products, he added.

Back in March, Ko said that the government would consider abolishing restrictions on milk powder exports only if milk suppliers could improve the resupply system, add reordering services at retail stores, allow the public to order formula in small pharmacies, add to supplies, and ensure sufficient manpower in the milk-powder industry to cope with the demand.

Related topics: Policy, East Asia, Supply chain, China, Dairy

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