[NEWSLETTER April 2013—02] Milk powder export ban

Milk powder export ban

In March 2013, the Government took the unprecedented step of imposing an export ban on baby milk powder with the intention to prohibit the secondary export of milk powder to the Mainland markets. The Government also decided to adopt the “negative vetting” procedure coupled with immediate enforcement of such measures before bringing the matter to LegCo for legislative scrutiny. This is a highly unusual procedure which means legislative measures and criminal sanctions were put in place without any prior vetting by LegCo. I immediately wrote to the Chief Secretary to protest against the adoption of such procedure and asked the Government to refrain from taking such steps in future unless in cases of real emergency.

The hasty drafting of the new legislative measures meant that milk products which were not the target of the original policy are now also covered by the legislation, leading to serious confusion at the enforcement level and for members of the public.

The Government has since come up with new amendments to the legislation, on which I have submitted a further amendment to address various legal issues  concerning the definition of milk powder.

It is of paramount importance for Hong Kong that our legislations are kept to the highest standards and in line with the cardinal principles of the rule of law – clarity and certainty.

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