The 16th Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference was held in Guangzhou this morning (February 28). The meeting was co-chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Henry Tang, and the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Ms Zhao Yufang.
The Chief Secretary for Administration said, "This is my first time to co-chair the working meeting with the Vice-Governor, Ms Zhao Yufang. The meeting reviewed the implementation progress of the Framework Agreement on Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation, particularly in respect of the 2010 Work Plan. Generally, as Hong Kong/Guangdong co-operation continues to deepen, encouraging progress has been made in the implementation progress of the 2010 Work Plan. On this basis, both sides adopted a proactive approach in drafting the 2011 Work Plan, so as to converge the strengths of both places with a view to achieving tangible and concrete results in all major aspects.The 2011 Work Plan was adopted, and signed after the meeting."
Major areas of co-operation discussed at the meeting include:
As regards financial co-operation, so far four Hong Kong banks have been approved by the China Banking Regulatory Commission Guangdong Bureau to set up a total of 10 sub-branches in Guangdong under the "cross-location sub-branches" measure of Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) Supplement VI. Moreover, CEPA Supplement VII announced in May 2010 included a measure to relax the prerequisite for business development of Hong Kong banks in the Mainland, under which any Hong Kong bank that has maintained a representative office in the Mainland for more than one year (instead of two years in the past) may apply to commence business operation.
As regards Renminbi (RMB) business in Hong Kong, there have continued to be encouraging developments in recent months. In June 2010, the relevant Mainland authorities greatly expanded the RMB trade settlement pilot scheme from the original five cities to 20 provinces and cities in the Mainland. In December, relevant Mainland authorities announced an expanded list of eligible Mainland enterprises that can settle merchandise exports in RMB under the scheme, raising the number of eligible Mainland enterprises from 365 to 67,359. From January to December 2010, the amount of RMB trade settlement conducted through Hong Kong amounted to RMB369.2 billion. Currently, about 30 per cent of trade settled in RMB was conducted between Hong Kong and Guangdong.
In addition, in January 2011, the People's Bank of China announced a pilot scheme for the settlement of overseas direct investments in RMB (Pilot Scheme). Under the Pilot Scheme, Mainland enterprises, upon approval by the relevant Mainland authorities, can conduct direct investments overseas using RMB. Moreover, the Hong Kong branches or correspondent banks of Mainland banks can obtain RMB funds from the Mainland and extend loans to the enterprises conducting the investments. We encourage Guangdong enterprises to make better use of the offshore RMB business platform of Hong Kong to "go abroad", and to conduct related financing and fund management activities.
Economic and trade Co-operation
Supplement VII to CEPA has become effective since January 1 this year. Several measures in the medical and construction sectors are ear-marked for early and pilot implementation in the Guangdong Province. Implementation of these measures will further promote the development of service industries in the two places. We will continue to liaise closely with the Guangdong Province to step up the promotion of CEPA and to follow up implementation problems, with a view to deepening the implementation of CEPA and Guangdong pilot measures.
In respect of co-operation on modern service industries in Qianhai, according to the current consensus, the Shenzhen Municipal Government has taken up the leading role and is responsible for the development and management of Qianhai, while the HKSAR Government will continue to provide comments on the study and formulation of issues like development planning and the related policies. At the meeting, the Hong Kong and Guangdong sides reviewed the progress in the implementation of the Overall Development Plan on Hong Kong/Shenzhen Co-operation on Modern Service Industries in Qianhai Area (Qianhai Development Plan), and agreed to continue to strengthen communication and co-operation. The HKSAR Government will actively facilitate the authorities concerned to deepen their understanding of the Hong Kong business sector, especially the financial services, professional services and other services sectors, and the policies required to encourage them to set up operations in the Mainland, so that the authorities could introduce timely and effective policy measures. The HKSAR Government will also actively complement the publicity and promotional work of the Shenzhen authorities to introduce to Hong Kong enterprises, professional sectors and service suppliers the content and business opportunities brought about by the Qianhai Development Plan. Moreover, the Qianhai Development Plan stipulates that a co-ordination mechanism led by the National Development and Reform Commission with the involvement of relevant ministries of the State Council, the Guangdong Provincial Government, the HKSAR Government and the Shenzhen Municipal Government should be set up to co-ordinate and resolve major problems encountered in the development of Qianhai. The HKSAR Government will actively participate in the mechanism, and support the implementation of the related policies.
Lok Ma Chau Loop
Substantive progress has been made in the Planning and Engineering Study on Development of Lok Ma Chau Loop jointly commissioned by the Hong Kong and Shenzhen governments. The two-month Stage 1 Public Engagement conducted concurrently in Hong Kong and Shenzhen ended on January 22, 2011. We are considering the views of various sectors of the community collected during the public engagement exercise, so as to refine the planning proposals in the Preliminary Outline Development Plan for the Loop.
Co-operation on infrastructure construction and boundary control point
Construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) commencement in mid-December 2009, and good progress has been made. The Design and Build Contract for the Immersed Tube Tunnel and Two Artificial Islands for the HZMB Main Bridge, which is the most important contract of the Main Bridge, was signed on December 21, 2010 and relevant works commenced in end 2010.On project financing, with the authorisation of the Joint Works Committee of the Three Governments, the HZMB Authority finalised the syndicated loan arrangement with the leader bank in January 2011.
Construction works of the Hong Kong section of the Guangdong-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link commenced in late January 2010. The whole project is in good progress and is expected to be completed in 2015.
The Dongjiang Water Supply Agreement specifies that the ultimate annual quantity of Dongjiang water supplied to Hong Kong should be 1,100 mcm, which will be adequate to meet the projected water demand of Hong Kong beyond 2030. The current supply agreement will expire by end 2011. Discussion between Hong Kong and Guangdong regarding the new Dongjiang Water Supply Agreement covering the supply arrangement in 2012 and after has already started. It is expected that the new supply agreement will be signed within 2011. The GD authorities have attached great importance to the protection of Dongjiang and have implemented a series of measures on prevention and control of water pollution to ensure the quality of the water supplied to Hong Kong complies with the requirements in the supply agreement. The Dongjiang Water Quantity and Quality Monitoring and Control System is a new project to further strengthen the protection of water quality, and the relevant approval for implementation had already been obtained. Site investigation works and tender for the detailed design of the project were completed in 2010. It is expected that the project will be substantially completed in 2011.
On the other hand, both sides continue to proceed with various preparatory works on the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point project and have reached consensus in respect of the handling capacities of the control point, work schedule, entrustment of part of the cross-boundary works for implementation to the Shenzhen side and jointly organising an international design competition for the passenger terminal building. The competition was launched in December last year.
Co-operation on environmental protection
Regarding co-operation on environmental protection, the two governments will continue to take forward the emission reduction measures under the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Management Plan, and embark upon a final assessment on the achievement of the 2010 emission reduction targets. Both sides are also striving to complete the study on the post-2010 arrangements for emission reduction in the PRD region as soon as possible. In addition, both sides will support the 6th EcoExpo Asia to be held in Hong Kong, continue to pursue co-operation under the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme, protect water environment, manage forestry and marine resources, as well as examine co-operation in recycling and reuse of reusable materials with a view to launching a trial scheme on cross-boundary recycling of reusable materials.
On medical co-operation, the HKSAR and the Mainland health authorities have established a solid and effective co-operation mechanism in the areas of medical and public health services.
Under Supplement VII to CEPA, the medical services market in Guangdong Province will be further opened up. Hong Kong service providers are allowed to establish wholly-owned hospitals in Guangdong Province. No requirement is imposed on the total investment in setting up hospitals by Hong Kong service providers on an equity joint venture or contractual joint venture basis in Guangdong Province and no restriction is imposed on the ratio of capital investment between Hong Kong service providers and Mainland partners. The above will facilitate the setting up of business by Hong Kong medical service sector in Guangdong Province, promote exchanges and co-operation in the area of medical and health services between the two places and provide more choices for patients in Guangdong Province. Hong Kong service providers are allowed to set up convalescent hospitals on a wholly-owned, equity joint venture or contractual joint venture basis to provide medical services in Guangdong Province. The approval for project establishment for setting up medical institutions by Hong Kong service providers on an equity joint venture or contractual joint venture basis in Guangdong Province will be undertaken by the Guangdong Provincial health administrative authority. Application time will be shortened and procedures streamlined to expedite the grant of approval document to Hong Kong service providers for setting up business in the Mainland. Besides, 12 types of statutory registered healthcare professionals in Hong Kong, including medical practitioners, Chinese medicine practitioners, dentists, nurses and pharmacists, etc, are allowed to provide short-term services in the Mainland.This helps promote professional exchanges between the practitioners in the two places, enrich the practice experiences of Hong Kong healthcare professionals, and provide a channel to facilitate the employment of Hong Kong healthcare professionals by Hong Kong service providers to work at the medical institutions set up by Hong Kong service providers in Guangdong Province.
Liberalisation measures under CEPA are well received by Hong Kong medical service sector. The HKSAR Government will continue to work in collaboration with the Mainland health authorities to explore other liberalisation measures for early and pilot implementation in Guangdong Province, to help the sector to develop more business opportunities for provision of diversified medical services in Guangdong Province.
In addition, to facilitate the development of Chinese medicine and medicine products, the Government will continue to conduct the relevant studies in collaboration with the Mainland, regional and international experts for the setting of standards for 200 Chinese herbal medicines commonly used in Hong Kong, so as to make Hong Kong a stage for promoting Chinese medicine to the world.
On education, the two sides co-operate in a wide variety of areas and have achieved good progress in teacher training, student exchange, tertiary education and vocational education. Schools, teachers and students generally support these efforts.
In the area of tertiary education co-operation, the HKSAR Government, in the spirit of achieving complementarity and a win-win situation whilst respecting institutional autonomy, supports Hong Kong post-secondary institutions to explore creative models to strengthen co-operation with their counterparts in Guangdong.
On cultural exchange, there will be a number of cultural exchange activities between Guangdong and Hong Kong this year. Apart from the 12th Greater Pearl River Delta Cultural Co-operation Meeting, the two sides will organise various brand new mega co-operation events, which include a joint Cantonese Opera performance, a joint dance performance, an exhibition displaying artifacts and historical documents provided by the two sides, and a forum on the cultural and creative industry, etc.
We look forward to a closer cultural co-operation for Guangdong and Hong Kong. We believe that through the various mega co-operation events to be organised this year, both sides will experience a deeper and broader exchange which will be conducive to enhancing the cultural atmospheres and to providing an invaluable cultural interchange for the industry.
Innovation and technology
On innovation and technology, both governments are exploring, as a priority, the feasibility of extending the funding scope and technology areas of "Guangdong-Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme" (TCFS). This may include the option of extending the scope of Innovation and Technology Fund with a view to allowing TCFS projects undertaken by R&D Centres to use part of the funding to cover the expenses of conducting trial schemes in the HKSAR Government departments and public sector, so as to promote commercialisation of the research results of the two sides.
On food safety, Guangdong and Hong Kong have maintained close contact on a regular basis on the areas of food safety. To further strengthen exchanges and assist the Mainland trade in understanding Hong Kong's statutory requirements in relation to food safety, we will conduct briefing sessions in the Mainland, including Guangdong, to introduce important new legislation such as the Food Safety Bill. We are discussing with the Mainland the control of aquatic products supplied to Hong Kong, and will continue to co-operate with Guangdong to strengthen the monitoring of the quality and safety of fresh agricultural products supplied to Hong Kong. We will also conduct forums to enhance technical exchanges between Guangdong and Hong Kong on laboratory testing of food.
In late 2006, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) and the Guangdong Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau (GDCIQ) launched a trial programme on identification of live pigs supplied to Hong Kong from Guangdong by means of electronic ear tags with Radio Frequency Identification functions.So far, FEHD has conducted four rounds of trial tests. FEHD will continue to conduct a new round of trial and review the effectiveness of the programme with GDCIQ.
2011 Work Plan of the Framework Agreement on Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation
Mr Henry Tang and Ms Zhao Yufang signed the 2011 Work Plan of the Framework Agreement after the meeting. Please see Annex for more details.
Other members of the HKSAR Government attending the meeting include the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam; the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau; and representatives of relevant bureaux and departments.
Ends/Monday, February 28, 2011
CS attends 16th Working Meeting of HK/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou (1)
The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Henry Tang, and the government delegation attend the 16th Working Meeting of Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou this morning (February 28).
CS attends 16th Working Meeting of HK/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou (2)
Mr Tang (fourth left), and the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Ms Zhao Yufang (fifth right), co-chair the 16th Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference.