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Tougher Food-imports Laws Underway in HK
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Hong Kong is drawing up laws to more stringently regulate vegetable, fruit, fish and seafood imports, Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow said Wednesday during his visit to the Netherlands.

Arriving at the Hague Wednesday morning, Chow met Ministry of Agriculture, Nature & Food Quality Director-General Renee Bergkamp to learn about the Netherlands' control of food imports and its food-safety control regime.

He noted that unlike the Netherlands which can take advantage of the European Union's complex system in controlling food import, Hong Kong has a more active part to play in administering its own control in collaboration with the exporting countries which contribute more than 90 percent of the city's food supply.

Officials told Chow the country and its EU counterparts are considering making labeling of nutrition content of food mandatory. Currently, food with nutritional claims already comes under mandatory labeling requirement.

In the afternoon, Chow met with Director-General of the Ministry of Health, Welfare & Sports Martin van Rijn, and was briefed on the country's healthcare reform program which was implemented last year following the enactment of the health insurance act.

Under the reform system, a strong emphasis is put on the importance of primary care and the gate-keeping role of private general practitioners. As private general practitioners formed an integral part of the medical system, they are subject to the government authority's regulation.

Chow arrived at Antwerp, Belgium in the evening and opened the Hong Kong Film Panorama organized to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The event will run from May 3 to 30.

Chow will visit Belgium and Germany to gain better understanding of these countries' food-safety control regimes and healthcare reforms before attending the World Health Organization' s 60th World Health Assembly in Geneva on May 14.

(Xinhua News Agency May 10, 2007)

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A: According to the Custom Law, any long-term non-resident passenger importing or exporting articles for personal use must submit a written application to the appropriate customs agency personally or by authorizing an agent.
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