The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is a landmark project of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development. (WANG JIAXIN FOR CHINA DAILY)

The Hong Kong SAR government is considering setting up a logistics park in Zhuhai to handle Chinese mainland cargo from outside the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, in addition to a similar operation in Dongguan to take care of cargo from within the GBA, Louise Ho Pui-shan, the commissioner of Customs and Excise, said in an exclusive interview with China Daily. 

The two logistics parks are part of the special administrative region’s efforts to realize the lofty goal of becoming a global aviation hub as mentioned in the nation’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).

The Zhuhai park, leveraging the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, will help to deliver cargo quickly to Hong Kong International Airport and from there it can reach worldwide destinations

Moreover, the HKSAR government will move to develop high-value, high-growth logistics, spanning temperature-controlled cargo such as medicine, vaccines and fresh goods, Ho said.

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The Zhuhai park, leveraging the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, will help to deliver cargo quickly to Hong Kong International Airport and from there it can reach worldwide destinations. 

“Hong Kong has been mulling about how to make full use of the Greater Bay Area to break out of the limitations of land and by setting up logistics parks in Guangdong cities, which have ample room, it will be beneficial to our logistics industry as long as we can make sure the goods remain untouched and intact when they are shipping to Hong Kong,” Ho said. 

In September, construction started on a Greater Bay Area logistics park in Zhuhai. Cargo in the park can reach Hong Kong in one hour by car through the Zhuhai Link Road, an extension of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. It’s expected that the cost of storage will be one-fifth of that in Hong Kong. The park, with an investment of 1 billion yuan ($137.4 million), will be in use in early spring 2023 and in full operation in early 2024.

For the Dongguan logistics park, Ho said that the government launched a pilot scheme in Dongguan and Hong Kong for testing the complete operational procedures since the end of 2021. The government will decide what to do next, based on the pilot’s situation.

The Customs and Excise Department has also designed a brand-new clearance arrangement for cargo. 

Under the new arrangement, cargo will be handled in Dongguan’s and Zhuhai’s logistics parks, with clearance, security screening, palletization, cargo acceptance, and other services for exports from the Chinese mainland to be completed before being shipped by sea, or by freight to an airside intermodal cargo handling facility at HKIA. Similarly, international cargo can also be imported into the mainland through a reverse process.

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The logistics parks will adopt Hong Kong’s cargo declaration standards and inspection criteria, Ho revealed.

Cargo will be subject to an arrangement similar to the “closed-loop” management during the shipping process, Ho said. 

The department will use high-tech equipment to seamlessly monitor the goods, ensuring they are not opened, touched, or encounter unexpected problems or risks when shipped by sea. After arriving in Hong Kong, the goods can be directly transshipped overseas through the city’s international aviation network without further security screening. 

This program will save a considerable amount of declaration and inspection time, thus significantly reducing the business cost and facilitating trade, Ho said.

As another initiative to support the city’s status as international logistics and aviation hub, in the maiden Policy Address released on Oct 19 by Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, the HKSAR government pledged to leverage its strengths in handling high‑value goods to promote the development of high‑end and high-value-added logistics services.

To achieve that, the Customs and Excise Department is considering simplifying customs clearance procedures for exporting and importing high-end products. That will also promote food safety, as less time will be spent in transportation. Ho said she is discussing the matter with her mainland counterparts as many products from the Pearl River Delta are worthy of inclusion. 

When the logistics service is enhanced, it will help mainland products going out as well as overseas products coming in. 

Mainland spending power will grow as the economy continues to improve and people on the mainland will be interested in more overseas products, she said. 

Simplification of customs clearance procedures will bring more logistics business to Hong Kong and also boost the economic development of the mainland, Ho said. 

To implement the blueprint of the high-value-added logistics industry, the Customs and Excise Department is negotiating with high-end industries, government departments, and other stakeholders to narrow the differences and reach a consensus, Ho said.