Updated: 2004-03-15 10:13
Shoppers with a fetish for cross-border goods can get their fix right in the city centre with the opening of Hong Kong City on Beijing Lu. Starting in January, local shoppers have had a chance to buy genuine products from the Special Administration Region (SAR) without having to pay hefty taxes usually associated with purchases from across the border. The new shopping mall, which is the result of the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the mainland and Hong Kong, has been set up as a showcase for Hong Kong products.
Products sold in Hong Kong City include consumer goods such as cosmetics, body care products, scented candles, jewellery and women's clothing. the shopping mall is a labyrinth of small stalls, most of which are currently empty. Stalls that do have vendors are mostly crammed with goods that are priced similar to mainland products.
"The place is more suitable for young people," said Chen Jijian, 50, who went shopping in Hong Kong City for the first time with some friends last month.
While most consumer products around the world are already produced on teh mainland, CEPA architects hope that the novelty of stores like Hong Kong City will even the playing field for manufacturers in the SAR who have suffered considerable financial loss due to cheaper labour costs on the mainland.
But not all shoppers are convinced that the items are genuine. "They say that the things here are from Hong Kong," added Chen. "But it's hard to say if everything is really from Hong Kong." Local shopper Wendy Zhao chimed in, "It doesn't look like the things on the third floor are anything special. In fact they don't look like they are from Hong Kong at all."
German visitor Eva Reinann had no complaints about the manufacturing source controversy. "You can find everything here," she gushed. "It's also not too crowded here. You can see everything."