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Hong Kong, Macao given food, energy pledge

By Li Jiabao  (China Daily)

08:29, January 30, 2013

Central government authorities pledged on Tuesday to stabilize agricultural and energy supplies to Hong Kong and Macao this year and meet increased demand in the region during the approaching Spring Festival.

"The demand for agricultural products in Hong Kong and Macao will surge about 20 percent during Spring Festival (which begins on Feb 10), and may face transportation challenges from bad weather. But it's no problem to ensure the supply as long as there is no extremely bad weather," said Jiang Fan, deputy director-general of the Department of Foreign Trade in the Ministry of Commerce, at a news briefing.

She added that the emergency plan, including transportation, will be used in the event of severe weather. And reserves of agricultural products in the neighboring cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen will make up the supply gap in inland cities.

The Chinese mainland supplies more than 90 percent of vegetables and more than 80 percent of livestock products to the two special administrative regions. In 2012, the value of agricultural products shipped from the mainland to Hong Kong and Macao totaled $6.76 billion, up 14.1 percent year-on-year, while the value of energy products, including water, gas and power, rose 12 percent year-on-year to $1.58 billion, according to the General Administration of Customs.

"Joint research showed that the (farm produce) demand in 2013 will be basically the same as that in 2012," Jiang said.

She agreed that mainland suppliers have received a lot of pressure from price increases since November as cold weather tightened produce supplies, and costs, including labor and feed, kept growing.

"But it requires the farmers and producers to find ways of unleashing their potential," Jiang said, adding that the ministry increased the supply of frozen beef after beef prices surged more than 30 percent year-on-year in 2012 in major suppliers in Beijing, Hebei province and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

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