Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Cross Border Grumbles

Today the MTR is enforcing its weight restrictions on large baggage to 32 kilograms.

This is one of the ways Hong Kong is trying to make it more difficult for parallel importers from the mainland, who come to the city buying up goods and causing havoc in train stations, particularly those near the border, such as Sheung Shui, Lo Wo, Fanling and Lok Ma Chau.

From now on people carrying large bags have to go through the wide luggage gates and then have their bags weighed.

If they go over the 32kg limit will be asked to use another form of transportation or be fined HK$2,000. And if they refuse to have their bags weighed, they could even be refused on the trains.

Previously people could carry a single piece of luggage up to 170 square centimetres with no weight limit.

And as expected parallel importers are not happy.

"I will keep coming," one Shenzhen man said. "The station will definitely be crowded tomorrow with many people waiting in line to have their baggage weighted. Let's see how many staff are needed."

The new restrictions are definitely cutting into these importers' efficiency.

Before 64 cans of milk powder could fit into a 170 sq cm bag, but now with the new weight limits, only 35 can be carried onto trains.

Also 12 packs of boxed drinks could be brought into the KCR station previously but now only four.

This means that these human mules are going to have to make even more trips than they did before, which isn't really tackling the problem.

Some are trying to circumvent the system by having vehicles ready to carry goods across the border or storing items in residential flats to make more trips later.

As stated before, the Chinese government should be fining its own citizens who do not pay import duties on these goods. And multiple-entry permits should not be interpreted as being allowed to cross the border into Hong Kong more than once a day.

How difficult is that to enforce?

It seems Beijing doesn't care and would rather leave it to Hong Kong to deal with the mess instead.

Or is everyone too busy with the upcoming leadership handover to bother?

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