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Seventh working meeting of HK/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held in HK

The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Rafael Hui, and the Executive Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Tang Bingquan, co-chaired the Seventh Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Hong Kong this afternoon (July 5).

The two sides agreed that the Ninth Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference would be held in Guangzhou in early August this year. It will be co-chaired by the Governor of Guangdong Province and the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The two sides also pointed out that it was the beginning of the 11th National Five-year Plan of Guangdong Province this year. Hong Kong and Guangdong should step up co-operation in various areas, including major infrastructural projects, facilitating cross-boundary flow of people and cargo, environmental protection, economic and trade and technology. This was to tie in with the future development of Guangdong, further sustain Hong Kong's position as a shipping, financial and trade centre and enable both sides to grasp the opportunities arising from developments during the 11th Five-year Plan period.

Following are the major areas discussed by the two sides´╝Ü

Major infrastructural projects

The planning of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the preparatory work of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge are continuing. Hong Kong and Shenzhen are now gearing up the construction of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor and the new control point. The target is to complete the remaining works and open the new boundary crossing in the first half of 2007. The two sides are also taking forward the construction works of the new boundary footbridge between Futian control point in Huanggang and the terminus of the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line. It is expected to be completed before the end of this year to tie in with the commissioning of the Futian control point and the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line next year.

Facilitating cross-boundary flow of people and cargo

Both sides will enhance the cross-boundary ferry service between Hong Kong International Airport and the Pearl River Delta (PRD). This includes exploration of new ferry routes.

The two sides will continue to make preparatory arrangements for the freight through train service linking Dongguan and Hung Hom. The two sides will also explore measures for extending the opening hours of inland control points in Dongguan to increase the efficiency of cross-boundary cargo flow.

Co-operation in environmental protection

Both sides agreed to continue their efforts in the operation of the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network and the daily release of the Regional Air Quality Index to the public. The report on regional air quality monitoring results for the first half year is expected to be released in October.

The two sides will make available details of the Emission Trading Pilot Scheme for Thermal Power Plants in the Pearl River Delta Region this year as scheduled for presentation to the power plants in Hong Kong and Guangdong, so that prospective participants can identify trading partners and draw up emission trading agreements.

According to the agreed annual action plan, the environmental protection authorities of both sides will review the progress and effectiveness of the enhanced control measures in the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Management Plan, evaluate the trend of regional emissions and draw up corresponding strategies and follow-up actions, with a view to achieving the emissions reduction targets agreed by both sides by 2010.

Economic and trade co-operation

Guangdong Province has been an important target for business development of the Hong Kong service industry since the implementation of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA). Among the further liberalisation measures under CEPA announced last week, Hong Kong travel agents set up in Guangdong Province will be allowed to operate group tours to Hong Kong and Macau for residents in the Guangdong Province on a pilot basis. This exemplifies the close co-operation relationship between Guangdong Province and Hong Kong.

With the introduction of further liberalisation measures under CEPA, the two sides plan to organise a seminar in October this year, during which officials of Guangdong Province will be invited to answer enquiries from businessmen in Hong Kong regarding the policies and regulations governing the various service industries. To encourage Guangdong enterprises to set up business in Hong Kong, Invest Hong Kong will hold a "Hong Kong Investment Promotion Seminar" in Foshan in the second half of this year. The Step-by-Step Guide, a guidebook on the procedures in relation to Guangdong enterprises exploring investment opportunities in Hong Kong, was published last month (June).

Co-operation in technology and informatisation

The Hong Kong and Guangdong governments will launch a new round of the "Guangdong/Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme" this month (July) to support the research and development and application of six technology areas. The two sides will continue to promote the use of RFID technology to enhance co-operation in logistics and clearance of goods.

Prevention of infectious diseases

The Tripartite Meeting of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Expert Group on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases was held in Dongguan at the end of June. Experts from the three places discussed issues relating to the overall strategy and emergency preparedness for influenza pandemic, control activities of other infectious diseases and further collaboration of medical and public health experts in the three places. Chief representatives of the three places also signed a co-operation agreement on emergency response of major public health incidents to facilitate further information exchange and enhance collaborative efforts in the investigation and control of emerging public health events.

Co-operation in food safety

The two sides convened the first high-level meeting and signed a framework agreement in April, which provided an effective communication channel to foster exchange of food safety information between the two places. The communication mechanism to exchange information on incidents relating to food safety has been operating well. The two sides have exchanged information on major public health issues, including genetically modified food, and cracked down on the import of fresh water fish which was not accompanied by health certificates. Both sides will continue to exchange views on issues of mutual concern.

Town planning and development

The two sides launched the "Planning Study on Co-ordinated Development of the Greater PRD Township" in March. Both sides aim to complete the study by early 2008. Hong Kong and Guangdong will soon hold a conference on the subject of comprehensive transportation planning in Guangdong during the 11th Five-year Plan period with the objective of enhancing exchange on planning information.

Other areas of co-operation

The two sides will continue co-operation in other areas, including tourism, education, civil service exchange, intellectual property rights, culture and sport.

Key officials attending the Seventh Working Meeting with Mr Hui included the Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, Mr Joseph Wong; the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Dr Sarah Liao; the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam; and the Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Ms Eva Cheng.

Ends/Wednesday, July 5, 2006