In response to the National Development and Reform Commission's release of the "Framework for Development and Reform Planning for Pearl River Delta Region" (Framework) today (January 8), a Government spokesman said:
"The Pearl River Delta Region (PRD Region) has always been advanced in economic and social development in the country. At the juncture of the 30th anniversary of the national development and reform, the publication and launch of the Framework has material significance.
"We welcome the Framework reaffirming Hong Kong's status as a financial centre and supporting the expansion of cooperation areas that can be decided among Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao under the guidance of the relevant central authorities. Strengthening cooperation between Hong Kong and Guangdong has thus become increasingly important. For pilot implementation on a trial basis, the three most important tasks are:
(a) To further the development of Hong Kong services industry in PRD Region and Guangdong. Under the Framework and requirement of CEPA, more liberalisation measures could be implemented in Guangdong on a pilot basis. With such experience in Guangdong, we will encourage the services industry to explore new grounds and develop in other parts of the Mainland;
(b) To work closely with the PRD Region to ensure clear division of work, reasonable layout and complementarities in development of ports and airports, with a view to maintaining Hong Kong's status as an important port and civil aviation hub in Asia; and
(c) To continue to play the role as an international financial centre, to promote the further development of Hong Kong financial industry and assist the trade in exploring development opportunities in the Mainland.
"We will actively take forward the suggestion of the Framework to encourage the PRD Region to make regional cooperation planning with Hong Kong and Macao jointly under the premise of agreements among all parties. We will discuss with Guangdong on the follow-up action soon.
"For implementation of CEPA and the Guangdong pilot measures, Hong Kong has all along been the largest trade partner of the Guangdong Province. In 2007, the import and export trade between the two places reached US$140 billion. Up to end of 2007, the total direct investment of Hong Kong in Guangdong has accumulated to over US$120 billion. Cumulatively, more than 99,000 Hong Kong-invested enterprises have been established in Guangdong. As at December 2008, more than HK$16 billion worth of goods entered the Mainland market making use of the zero-tariff preferential treatment under CEPA, of which 65 per cent was exported to Guangdong. As for trade in services, more than 2,000 Certificates of Hong Kong Service Suppliers have been issued. These certificate holders have enjoyed the benefits brought by CEPA when investing in relevant service industries on the Mainland. About 40 per cent of the investments went to Guangdong. For Taiwan-invested enterprises, they will also be able to enjoy preferential treatment granted under CEPA in development in Guangdong, provided that they fulfill the definition and related requirements of Hong Kong service suppliers. Meanwhile, more than 30 million trips were made by Mainland visitors to Hong Kong under the Individual Visit Scheme, with about 80 per cent of the applications coming from Guangdong.
"The Framework supports the listing of PRD enterprises in the Hong Kong stock market so that the status of Hong Kong as a financial centre can be fully demonstrated. As at October 2008, 66 Guangdong enterprises were listed in Hong Kong with a market value of over HK$220 billion. In 2008, more than 220 Mainland companies have set up regional headquarters and regional offices in Hong Kong. Quite a number of them come from Guangdong.
"In order to enhance closer co-operation within the PRD region, both Hong Kong and Guangdong have made efforts to improve the cross-boundary infrastructural facilities and the efficiency in passenger flow, to implement 24-hour operation at the Lok Ma Chau/Huanggang Control Point, to commission the Shenzhen Bay Control Point and Lok Ma Chau Spur Line. It is expected that the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge will commence no later than 2010 and the construction work of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link will commence in 2009. The preliminary study of a rail link between the airports of Hong Kong and Shenzhen has just been completed, while both Hong Kong and Shenzhen have agreed to commence the development of a new border control point at Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai. At present, there are six land border control points, two of which are connected by rail. In 2007, there were more than 13 millions man-trip per month via the land border control points between the two places (the total man-trips of 2007 were over 160 millions), and the number of vehicle-trips was more than 1.3 millions.
"The Greater PRD region has the world's busiest container ports. In 2007, the container throughputs in Hong Kong and Shenzhen ranked third and fourth in the world respectively. If taking together the major ports in Greater PRD, including those in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao, the total container throughput reached 54.5 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot-Equivalent Units) in 2007. It is estimated that about 74 per cent of the Mainland container cargoes handled by Hong Kong in 2007 were Guangdong cargoes. In 2006, 3.6 million tonnes air freight cargoes were handled by the Hong Kong International Airport, in which about 70 per cent were PRD cargoes. In the same year, air freight cargoes handled by the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and Shenzhen International Airport were 0.7 million tonnes and 0.6 million tonnes respectively. If Hong Kong and Guangdong can reaffirm the division of work and the complementarities under the Framework, greater synergies can be generated resulting in win-win situations."
Ends/Thursday, January 8, 2009