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HK looks at lifting baby formula restrictions

(Global Times)

09:35, July 05, 2013

The government of Hong Kong said on its official website it may consider abolishing the policy that restricts how much powdered baby formula individuals can take out of the region.

The announcement came after the Food and Health Bureau of the special administrative region announced plans to establish a committee to work on improving the supply of baby formula, adding that if the measures prove effective and sustainable, the ban would be lifted.

A sufficient and steady supply of powdered formula is very important for local parents and infants, said the government, adding that the serious shortage of powdered formula earlier this year is closely related to ineffective supply chains in Hong Kong.

Local authorities have required local powdered formula suppliers to improve supply chains from four aspects, including strengthening efficiency in transferring goods from outside the region and reinforcing the ability to dispatch and deliver them.

The committee will discuss and examine the effectiveness and sustainability of the measures in improving the supply chains proposed by the industry, said local officials.

Local government promised to review the effectiveness of the measures in October, adding that proposals should be sustainable and able to cope with surging demands in peak seasons such as the National Day Holiday in October and Spring Festival.

Authorities said the committee will include suppliers and retailers of the powdered formula, parents and representatives from logistics companies.

The region's restriction on individuals' carrying powdered formula out took effect on March 1, and applies to both locals and tourists who are forbidden to carry out more than 1.8 kilograms of formula.

Anyone who flouts the rule faces a fine of HK$500,000 ($64,488) and two years in prison.

"The new move is rational," said Wang Dingmian, a diary industry expert in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. "Formula suppliers in Hong Kong found it was difficult to sell their goods after the ban, which put pressure on local officials," Wang noted.

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