Non -Textiles Publication
Liberalisation of the Rice Trade
Rice as a Staple Food in Hong Kong
Rice is one of the major staple food in Hong Kong. There is no rice production in Hong Kong and all rice for local consumption is imported. In recent years, import and consumption of rice have been stable at about 320,000 to 330,000 tonnes each year. Per capita consumption is about 48 - 50 kg per year.
History of the Rice Control Scheme
The Government introduced a rice control scheme in 1955 when rice supply was a major concern of the community. The objective of the scheme has been to ensure a regular and steady supply of rice for the consumption of the community, and to provide a reserve stock to cater for emergency situations or any short term shortage of supplies. Under the rice control scheme, importers were allocated import quota. There were capital and financial requirements to be registered as an importer of rice.
Liberalisation of the Rice Trade
The Government is committed to trade liberalisation and enhancing competition within the rice trade. The rice control scheme was reviewed with a view to liberalising the rice trade as far as practicable and to allow a reasonable transitional period for the rice trade to prepare themselves for operating in the new environment. In close consultation with the trade, gradual liberalisation measures have been implemented since 1996 to prepare the rice trade for the transition.
By 2003, the Government will only maintain the minimum control necessary to ensure a stable supply and to keep a reserve stock to cater for emergencies. There will not be any restriction on import quantity. Anyone who intends to import rice into Hong Kong may apply to be registered as importers any time. The entry requirements will be removed. The number of operators and their share of the market will be determined by market forces and traders' business decisions. A minimal reserve stock will continue to be maintained to meet any contingency.
The rice trade will generally operate in a free market environment. The liberalisation will encourage competition and increase market efficiency. The traders will have more flexibility in operation. The market will be transparent and statistics on the market situation will be disseminated to all registered importers to facilitate their better understanding of the market and will also be made available to all interested parties.
Comparison of the current control and arrangements in 2003
|Arrangements||Current System||2003 System|
|Registration of Importers||Registration of rice importers is conducted on a need basis. Registration as an importer is subject to capital and financial requirements.||Any interested parties may apply to be registered as rice importers any time. The registration criteria will be relaxed to remove the capital and financial requirements.|
|Import Quantity||The quantity of rice imports for local consumption is subject to an import quota allocated to individual registered importers.||No import quota will be imposed. The level of rice to be imported will be determined by individual importers in accordance with their assessment of the market demand and their own sales capability.|
|Reserve Stock of Rice||A reserve stock of 13,500 tonnes, sufficient for 15 days' consumption by the local population is maintained and is shared among all registered importers.||The same level of reserve stock, sufficient for 15 days' consumption by the local population, at about 13,500 tonnes, will be maintained. It will be shared among all registered importers.|
Registration of rice stockholders
Any person carrying on business registered in Hong Kong under the Business Registration Ordinance (Cap 310) interested in dealing with rice importing business may apply any time of the year to be registered with the Trade and Industry Department as a stockholder of rice to import rice for local sales. Traders who wish to commence their rice importing business as from 1 January 2003 may send in their application for registration on or before 31 October 2002.
For details and enquiries, please visit our web-site at http://www.tid.gov.hk/ or contact :
Rice Control Unit
Trade and Industry Department
Room 1324, 13/F, Trade and Industry Tower,
3 Concorde Road, Kowloon City, Hong Kong
Telephone : 2398 5570
Fax : 3525 0987
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org.