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17th Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held in Hong Kong (with photo)

     The Chief Secretary for Administration (CS), Mr Stephen Lam, and the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Ms Zhao Yufang, co-chaired the 17th Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference at the new Central Government Offices today (January 9). Relevant Principal Officials of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government as well as officials of the Guangdong Provincial Government attended the meeting.

     Mr Lam said, "At the working meeting this morning, Vice-Governor Zhao and I reviewed the progress of implementation of the 2011 Work Plan of the Framework Agreement on Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation (Framework Agreement) and drew up the 2012 Work Plan. In the light of the uncertainties on the global economic prospects, Guangdong and Hong Kong must rise to the challenge together by enhancing co-operation and seizing the opportunities brought by the National 12th Five-Year Plan and the various support measures announced by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang during his visit to Hong Kong last August.

     "We have adopted a proactive and pragmatic approach in the compilation of the 2012 Work Plan. In response to the call to strengthen Hong Kong/Guangdong co-operation set out in the National 12th Five-Year Plan, a total of 86 specific action items have been included in the 2012 Work Plan, which will serve as a blueprint for co-operation and exchange this year."

     In respect of individual areas of co-operation, the latest progress and directions for further co-operation are set out below:

Financial co-operation

     Financial co-operation remains one of the key areas of co-operation between the two sides. In the past year, geographical coverage of the Renminbi (RMB) trade settlement scheme has been expanded to the entire Guangdong Province, and RMB cross-border trade settlement business between Guangdong and Hong Kong continues to expand. As of November 2011, the amount of RMB trade settlement conducted through Hong Kong amounted to RMB 1,675.9 billion yuan, of which more than 20 per cent involved trade settlement between Guangdong and Hong Kong.

     Supplement VIII to the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) signed in last December introduces new liberalisation measures for the insurance industry under which Hong Kong insurance brokerage companies would be allowed to set up wholly-owned insurance agency companies in Guangdong Province on a pilot basis. Supplement VIII to CEPA also includes measures which further expand the business scope of Hong Kong-funded banks and securities companies in the Mainland. As of end of last November, over 120 Guangdong entreprises have been listed in Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong subsidiaries of six securities companies, six fund management companies and three securities futures trading companies from Guangdong have obtained licenses to carry out regulated activities in Hong Kong. In addition, as of October 2011, according to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, four banks with Hong Kong capital have set up a total of 19 sub-branches in Guangdong.

     This year, in accordance with the National 12th Five-Year Plan and the principles of the Framework Agreement, we will progressively establish a financial co-operation zone led by Hong Kong's financial system and supported by financial resources and services of the Pearl River Delta region. The two sides will continue to promote RMB business between the two places; enhance co-operation in various financial services such as credit, securities, insurance, futures, bonds and asset management; and further deepen co-operation in training and exchanges of personnel in this sector.

Commerce and trade co-operation

     On commerce and trade, the Guangdong Province will continue to implement CEPA and the various early and pilot measures to open up its service industries for Hong Kong. Supplement VIII to CEPA includes liberalisation measures in a wide spectrum of sectors including construction, insurance, distribution, individually owned stores etc. The Guangdong side will strive for the early promulgation of the implementation details for all relevant measures to be taken forward in Guangdong. We will continue to co-operate closely with the Guangdong Province to step up the promotion of CEPA and follow up on any problems encountered in the process.

     On upgrading and transformation of the processing trade, the two sides have been keeping a close eye on the development of Hong Kong-funded enterprises in Guangdong. The 30 measures supporting the development of Hong Kong-funded enterprises introduced at the end of last year by the Guangdong Province are of great significance to upgrading and transformation of these enterprises. The HKSAR Government will also set up a HK$1 billion fund to support Hong Kong enterprises in developing their brands, promoting domestic sales, and upgrading and transforming their operation in the Mainland. The HKSAR Government will maintain close dialogue with the Guangdong Province and jointly encourage enterprises to move up the value chain and build brands by leveraging Hong Kong's strengths in design.

Legal and arbitration co-operation

     The two sides recognised that the global experience of the legal sectors and arbitration bodies of Hong Kong will facilitate and support Guangdong enterprises in opening up international market. Hong Kong and Guangdong will expedite co-operation and commence discussion as soon as possible to strive for early implementation of relevant measures announced by the Vice-Premier Li Keqiang in August last year, including to explore ways of improving the mode of association of law firms (of Hong Kong and Mainland) and to work out detailed arrangements for Hong Kong arbitration bodies to provide service directly in Qianhai, Shenzhen. The two sides will continue to enhance co-operation on visits and exchanges between the legal affairs departments (or departments responsible for legal affairs) of the two places as well as in training of personnel.

Tourism co-operation

     The highlight of this year's tourism co-operation is to implement measures to support Hong Kong's tourism development as announced by the Vice-Premier Li Keqiang during his visit to Hong Kong last August. Hong Kong and Guangdong will continue to step up co-operation in further opening up overseas travel market, attract international tourists and expand the Mainland's outbound travel market. Guangdong will expedite the extension of the "144-hour facilitation visa" policy to the entire province.

Travel facilitation

     Hong Kong and Guangdong have been working on the implementation of travel facilitation between the two places. In this regard, this year will focus on the implementation of three new initiatives: first, the introduction of the first phase of the trial scheme on ad hoc quotas for cross-boundary private cars in March as planned; second, launch of Lingnan Tong and Octopus two-in-one cards which could be used by the general public for public transport and retail purchases in the two places; third, extension of Hong Kong's e-Channel service to registered frequent visitors from the Mainland, starting with Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau Spur Line control points from this month onwards.

Co-operation on environmental protection

     On environmental protection, both sides have made considerable achievements in implementing the emission-reduction measures under the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Management Plan (2002-2010). The focus of our work for this year would be to conclude the formulation of the emission reduction targets and arrangements for the Pearl River Delta region in 2015 and 2020, and strive to announce the results shortly.

     The two sides will also take forward the joint study on regional water quality management plan for the Pearl River Estuary and collaboration on water pollution abatement actions for Shenzhen Bay; initiate collaboration on protection of marine environment and ecological restoration; take forward reef check and collaboration on healthy aquaculture; continue to take forward cross-boundary co-operation in recycling and reuse of resource materials; and to implement the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme.

Medical services co-operation

     Hong Kong and Guangdong co-operation continues to deepen co- operation in medical services. As of November 2011, Hong Kong service providers have set up 12 wholly-owned clinics and out-patient clinics in Guangdong Province. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong University-Shenzhen Hospital (i.e. Shenzhen Binhai Hospital) set up jointly by the University of Hong Kong and the Shenzhen Municipal Government will officially start operation within this year. Last year, medical institutions in the two places started a pilot scheme for transfer of medical records of Hong Kong residents who have received treatment in the Mainland back to Hong Kong. The two sides will continue to improve the medical records transfer scheme and expand the scheme to more hospitals in Shenzhen this year.

Education co-operation

     On education co-operation, we will encourage local education institutions and students to participate in learning or exchange programmes in the Mainland under the Pilot Mainland Experience Scheme for Post-secondary Students, and take the opportunities to enhance their understanding of the Guangdong Province. Furthermore, Vice Premier Li Ke-qiang announced in August last year a pilot scheme whereby from 2012 onwards 63 Mainland higher education institutions will exempt Hong Kong students from taking the Joint Entrance Examination for Universities in the Mainland and admit them on the basis of their results in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examinations and the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examinations. Seventeen higher education institutions in the Guangdong Province have participated in the scheme. The Education Bureau and the Ministry of Education jointly organised the 2011 Mainland Higher Education Expo last December to provide opportunities for students and parents to obtain information on admission arrangements directly from the 63 Mainland higher education institutions.

     Furthermore, the two sides are actively facilitating customs clearance and transport arrangements for cross-boundary students residing in Shenzhen. At the same time, joint efforts will continue to be made to encourage teachers in the two places to enhance exchange and co-operation in training, and to push forward co-operation in vocational education. Meanwhile, continuous efforts will be made to improve the pilot scheme for providing special schools/classes for Hong Kong children in Shenzhen.

Key co-operation areas

     All of the key co-operation areas made significant progress last year. On Qianhai, Hong Kong and Guangdong will focus on obtaining the Central People's Government's early approval for preferential measures to encourage Hong Kong enterprises, professional sectors and service providers to establish operations in Qianhai. The HKSAR Government will also continue to actively complement the Shenzhen authorities in the related publicity and promotional work. On Lok Ma Chau Loop, Hong Kong and Shenzhen reached an initial consensus on various issues, including development positioning, applicable laws, land administration and co-development mechanism. The two sides will continue the efforts to push forward the work in this area with a view to commencing operation of part of the higher education facilities in the Loop by 2020. In respect of Nansha, the Hong Kong - Guangdong Co-operation Working Group held its first meeting in December last year to exchange views on Nansha's development directions. The HKSAR Government will maintain a close dialogue with the Guangzhou Municipal Government to provide views on the development of Nansha.

Regional co-operation plan

     The four regional co-operation plans under the Framework Agreement have also made good progress. The Regional Co-operation Plan on Building a Quality Living Area, the Plan on Infrastructure Construction in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao and the Action Plan for the Bay Area of the Pearl River Estuary are nearing completion. Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao have commenced work on the Tourism Co-operation Plan to map out a long-term development strategy on regional tourism co-operation and to enhance the attractiveness of the region as tourist destinations.

Other areas

     Apart from the above-mentioned areas, Hong Kong and Guangdong have also made steady progress in various other areas of co-operation such as cross-boundary infrastructure, creative industries, innovation and technology, testing and certification, cultural co-operation, building of cross-boundary control points and cross-boundary clearance, intellectual property, food and agricultural products safety, and public security.

2012 Work Plan of the Framework Agreement on Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation

     The CS, Mr Stephen Lam, and the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Ms Zhao Yufang signed the 2012 Work Plan of the Framework Agreement after the meeting.

     Officials accompanying the CS in attending the meeting included the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam; the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam; the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau; the Acting Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Ms Julia Leung; the Acting Secretary for Transport and Housing, Mr Yau Shing-mu; the Permanent Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Joshua Law; and the Under Secretary for Education, Mr Kenneth Chen.

Ends/Monday, January 9, 2012

Mr Lam leads a delegation to attend the 17th Working Meeting of Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held at the new Central Government Offices.

CS attends 17th Working Meeting of Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference

Mr Lam leads a delegation to attend the 17th Working Meeting of Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held at the new Central Government Offices.