Aviation article(s)
March 22, 2023
Freight forwarders in Hong Kong have welcomed amendments introduced by the government over transhipment regulations of alternative smoking products following a ban on land-to-air transhipment of e-cigarette products.

"The Hong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics (HAFFA) has welcomed and fully supports the announcement today (March 22) by the Hong Kong SAR Government of legislative proposals for the Import and Export (Amendment) Bill 2023 (the Bill), related to the transhipment of alternative smoking products," HAFFA said in a statement.

HAFFA has consistently called on the city government to resume land-to-air transhipment of e-cigarette products citing the significant impact of the ban on air cargo volumes moving out of Hong Kong — the world's busiest air cargo hub.
In its March 22 statement, HAFFA noted that as predicted by the industry, since the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 (the "Ordinance") came into effect on April 30, 2022, the volume of air cargo exports has continued to plummet as it cited latest statistics released by the Airport Authority, in January 2023, showing that the volume of air freight exports fell by almost 30%.
Impact on Hong Kong air cargo volumes
"In addition to other peripheral factors, the loss of the huge e-cigarette product transhipment business from the Mainland is one of the main contributors to the decline as most of the Mainland-produced e-cigarette goods originally exported through Hong Kong Airport have now been forced to transship through Macau or South Korea," HAFFA said.
It added that the Hong Kong government's ban on the transhipment of e-cigarettes through Hong Kong has had a "seriously detrimental impact" on the industry and has dealt an unprecedented blow to the economy and people's livelihood.
"While HAFFA agrees with the original intention of the legislation to protect public health and establish a smoke-free Hong Kong, we also now strongly support the government's legislative (revision) proposal to restore the existing transhipment methods in the freight logistics industry as soon as possible," said Gary Lau, chairman of HAFFA. "It is vital to the survival of the industry."
Lau added that the Association had proposed a "new, safe land transportation method" to the Transport and Logistics Bureau and firmly believes that the industry will also comply with the conditions proposed by the Bureau and actively cooperate with the strict regulatory measures required by the government to prevent e-cigarettes from entering the local black market through secured land transfer directly to the cargo terminals at the airport.
Intermodal transhipment plan
"The Association is now actively discussing the details of the proposed intermodal transhipment plan with the government and will do its best to resume land-air transhipment of e-cigarette products as early as possible," Lau added.

HAFFA earlier cited data from its members suggesting that affected e-cigarette cargo is estimated at 330,000 tons per year, which translates to a loss to Hong Kong of approximately 10% of the city's annual export volume by air.


The value of this re-export cargo affected by the ban is estimated to exceed CNY120 billion (US$17.33 billion).


Established in 1966, HAFFA has now over 320 corporate members.


The organization is responsible for setting industry standards and providing educational courses that enhance the professional standards of freight forwarders and logistics services providers.


HKIA welcomes resumption of e-cigarette transhipment


Separately, the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) also signalled its support for the legislative proposals under the Import and Export (Amendment) Bill 2023 announced by the Government, which aims to facilitate the resumption of transshipping alternative smoking products (ASPs) from the Mainland via Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to overseas destinations.


"AAHK fully supports the Government's stance of prohibiting ASPs from entering the local market. With the securing and surveillance measures in place, AAHK will work with all concerned parties to comply with the new control and regulatory requirements stipulated by the Government," it said.


AAHK noted that HKIA has long been the world's leading air cargo hub and a key international cargo gateway of the Mainland.


It said that HKIA handles around three-fourths of international air cargo from the Greater Bay Area.


"AAHK looks forward to the resumption of the intermodal transhipment of the ASPs to offer better service for cargo transhipment in the Greater Bay Area," AAHK added.

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