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Saturday, March 14, 2015, 12:39

Border shopping center may open by National Day holiday

By JOSEPH LI in Hong Kong
Border shopping center may open by National Day holiday
Mainland Chinese tourists look at a display at a jewelry store in a Hong Kong shopping mall on March 8, 2012. (AFP PHOTO / AARON TAM)

Land will be made available at the end of May for a planned border shopping center for mainlanders. This is scheduled to open by the National Day holiday, lawmaker Wong Ting-kwong said on Friday.

Wong, a legislative councilor from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, has been a strong advocate of the idea.

He said the shopping outlet would sell popular goods catering mainly to mainland visitors. But Wong, who represents the import-export sector, told China Daily that Hong Kong residents would also be welcome to shop there.

When the shopping center is launched in October, Wong believes it will greatly reduce the chaos in some New Territories districts.

These have been swamped by mainland tourists and parallel traders.

Mainland people won't need to go to other districts to buy their favorite products.

It will also provide thousands of job openings for locals, he said. Wong is among the fi rst people to have suggested the idea of a border shopping outlet. After many attempts, he has fi nally identified a 420,000-square-foot site. This is just fi ve minutes' walk from Lok Ma Chau immigration check point. The shopping outlet will be accessible by tourist coaches and private cars.

The land owner will only charge a nominal rent. Wong said rents would be charged at below market rates to encourage more companies to open shops there. Social enterprises and youth start-ups may enjoy lower rents.

A trustee will be set up, with Wong as a member, to appoint an operator to run the outlet.

About 30 percent of the site will be used to accommodate booths in the form of 40-feet containers. There will be nearly 400 containers on site, he said. A module will comprise three containers. While big enterprises will be able to occupy three containers, smaller companies may only need a single container, or half a container.

As each shop will need several staff over two shifts, he anticipates it will create at least 3,000 jobs, especially for people living nearby.

Wong is optimistic that many enterprises have expressed an interest in opening shops at the border outlet. To ensure good quality and no fakes, he will invite reputable enterprises to participate.

In general, manufacturers or larger retailers will be invited to take part to save on payments to middlemen and ensure lower prices for customers.

As a condition, he will require shops not to sell goods which are more expensive than those in other shops.

Wong will submit the application to the government at the end of March. The site will be handed over by the end of May for ground works.

The target launch date for the site is the October National Day holiday.


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