The 15th Plenary meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference was held in Guangzhou today (September 14). The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) delegation was led by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, and the Guangdong delegation was led by the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Zhu Xiaodan.
The Chief Executive said that he and Mr Zhu reviewed the progress of Hong Kong/Guangdong co-operation over the past year and set the directions for future co-operation of the 15th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference. Both sides are satisfied that implementation of the 86 co-operation items under the 2012 Work Plan have made good progress.
Promoting early achievement of liberalisation of
trade in services between Hong Kong and Guangdong
One of the key issues discussed at the meeting is promoting early achievement of liberalisation of trade in services between Hong Kong and Guangdong. Guangdong Province intends to achieve the objective in 2014 and is in the process of compiling an outline plan and a detailed action plan. The governments of the two places will press ahead with relevant work. A co-operation agreement on joint promotion of early achievement of liberalisation of trade in services between Hong Kong and Guangdong was signed by the two sides after the meeting.
Expediting the implementation of the Framework
Agreement on Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation
To expedite the implementation of the Framework Agreement, the two sides agreed to draw up a comprehensive work plan covering all aspects of co-operation under the Framework Agreement in the National 12th Five-Year Plan period. Specific targets will be set, where possible, for each co-operation initiative. This will be the first time that the two sides jointly draw up a comprehensive road map and multi-year timetable for taking forward co-operation in various areas.
In respect of individual areas of co-operation, the progress made and directions for further co-operation are set out below.
Commerce and trade co-operation and measures for
early and pilot implementation in Guangdong
On commerce and trade, co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong in various service sectors continued to deepen in the past year. The implementation details for all Guangdong pilot measures under Supplement VIII to the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) have been formulated. Besides, Supplement IX to CEPA, signed in June this year, introduced further liberalisation measures for the professional services sector. Hong Kong and Guangdong will press ahead with the formulation of relevant implementation details. On construction and related engineering services, 1 490 Hong Kong professionals have now acquired professional qualification in the Mainland through mutual recognition. Meanwhile, 18 Hong Kong service suppliers have obtained certificates for setting up wholly owned clinics/outpatient clinics in Guangdong. Furthermore, the plan to set up the first wholly owned Hong Kong invested hospital has been endorsed by Guangdong Province and is being scrutinised by the Ministry of Health. When approved, it will probably be the first wholly owned foreign invested hospital in the Mainland.
On upgrading and restructuring of enterprises, continuous efforts will be made by the two sides to encourage Hong Kong enterprises engaged in processing trade operations to speed up restructuring and upgrading of the technology level. To enable Hong Kong enterprises to gain access to the Mainland market, the two sides will also further encourage enterprises to actively promote domestic sales, by participating in "Selling Guangdong Goods Northward" activities and the "China Processing Trade Products Fair", etc. The HKSAR Government has also launched a $1 billion Dedicated Fund in June this year to assist Hong Kong enterprises in upgrading and restructuring, developing brands and promoting domestic sales.
On financial co-operation, a joint venture company was established in Hong Kong in June this year by the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEx), the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and the Shanghai Stock Exchange to develop index and equity derivatives. In addition, the first joint-venture securities investment advisory company set up by Hang Seng Securities Limited and Guangzhou Securities Limited officially opened for business in Guangdong last month, introducing a new mode of co-operation in securities business between the two places. Recently, three physical A-share ETFs were listed on the HKEx, allowing Hong Kong investors to invest indirectly in the Mainland stock markets, including the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
Development of cross-border Renminbi (RMB) business has made very good progress this year. In the first seven months of 2012, RMB trade settlement conducted through Hong Kong reached RMB1,400 billion, of which 20 per cent was trade settlement between Hong Kong and Guangdong. Other financial services involving the two places have also recorded healthy growth. At the moment, five Hong Kong-funded banks have been given approval to set up a total of 27 sub-branches and one village and town bank in Guangdong Province. In addition, at end-June this year, over 130 Guangdong enterprises had been listed in Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong subsidiaries of seven securities companies, six fund management companies and three futures trading companies of the Mainland have obtained licenses to carry out regulated activities in Hong Kong.
In the coming year, Hong Kong and Guangdong will enhance collaboration to pursue the macro objectives set out in the National 12th Five-Year Plan and the Framework Agreement, including in particular the establishment of a financial co-operation zone led by Hong Kong's financial system and supported by financial resources and services of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region.
Innovation and technology co-operation
Innovation and technology is one of Hong Kong's priority industries. To take forward its long-term development and to encourage and enhance collaboration among research institutes in the two places, the two sides launched the Guangdong-Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme in 2004. Since then, the two sides have jointly supported over 35 research projects, with a total funding of over $200 million. This year's Funding Scheme has been open to application from August. Meanwhile, all projects taken forward under the Three-year Action Plan of the Shenzhen/Hong Kong Innovation Circle completed successfully this year. The City University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Chinese University of Hong Kong have established their respective Industry, Academic and Research Bases in Shenzhen under the Three-year Action Plan, and the relevant laboratory facilities have been commissioned as planned.
Construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge is progressing satisfactorily. Reclamation works for the Hong Kong boundary control point (BCP) officially commenced in end-2011 while construction of the Hong Kong link roads has begun in May 2012. These projects are expected to be completed in 2016 as planned to tie in with the opening of the bridge. As for the new BCP at Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai, site formation and design for the Hong Kong side BCP and the connecting road were completed in the middle of this year. Construction work will commence in phases starting from early 2013. The two sides will also continue to push forward the construction of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link to ensure that construction works will complete on time.
On facilitation of travel between the two places, remarkable results have been achieved in respect of interoperability of fare cards between the two places. During the year, Hong Kong's Octopus Cards Limited launched two-in-one cards with Lingnan Tong and Shenzhen Tong respectively, providing additional convenience to frequent travellers between the two places.
To enhance efficiency of passenger clearance at control points, the Immigration Department introduced, in phases from January 2012, its e-Channel service for frequent visitors for the Mainland at the Lo Wu, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line, Shenzhen Bay, China Ferry Terminal, Macau Ferry Terminal and Hong Kong International Airport control points. As at August 15, 2012, more than 270 000 Mainland visitors that have enrolled for using the e-Channel service, and they have made a total of 5.17 million boundary crossings, accounting for almost 20 per cent of the total number of crossings by Mainland visitors.
Improvement works at the Man Kam To (MKT) and Lok Ma Chau (LMC) control points have been progressing satisfactorily. Works for the MKT control point are expected to be completed in 2012, increasing the number of e-Channels from the current nine to 18. As for the LMC control point, first phase (southbound) works will be completed by end-2012 while second phase (northbound) works are expected to be completed in 2013. On completion, the number of e-Channels at the LMC control point will increase from the current 20 to 43.
Co-operation on environmental protection
On environmental protection, notable progress has been made in improving regional air quality. To further reduce and control pollutant emissions, the two sides will strive to promulgate the next phase of emission reduction targets and measures for the PRD region within this year. This will provide a new foundation for taking forward longer term collaboration in emission reduction.
Both Hong Kong and Guangdong recognise the importance of regional co-operation in reducing emissions by ocean-going vessels (OGVs). With a view to achieving sustainable port development in the PRD region and building advanced, quality and environmentally friendly ports in the PRD waters, the two sides agreed to conduct a study on reducing vessel emissions in Greater PRD waters (including requiring OGVs at berth to switch to low-sulphur fuel), with a view to developing proposals on regulatory control for consideration by the relevant authorities.
On education co-operation, since the launch of the pilot scheme which allows 63 Mainland higher education institutions to exempt Hong Kong applicants from taking the Joint Entrance Examination for Universities in the Mainland this year, 17 higher education institutions in Guangdong have joined the scheme, providing Hong Kong students with more opportunities to pursue further studies. Guangdong Province will also launch a new scheme to allow certain qualified vocational and technical institutions of Guangdong to enrol Hong Kong students through assessment and admission arrangements operated by the institutions independently. Meanwhile, the on-board clearance services for students on cross-boundary school buses have been extended to the LMC (Huanggang) BCP, thereby providing a safer and more convenient clearance arrangement for cross-boundary students.
Looking forward, Hong Kong and Guangdong will encourage more innovative co-operation between higher education institutions in Hong Kong and education institutions in Guangdong; continue the promotion of co-operation in vocational education; follow up on the implementation of the pilot scheme on schools and classes for Hong Kong students in Shenzhen; continue the implementation of the sister school scheme and explore the deepening of exchanges between sister schools; and continue to enhance bilateral exchanges on teacher training.
On cultural co-operation, Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao signed a Letter of Intention to jointly promote the development of Cantonese opera in April 2012, pledging further co-operation on preservation and development of the artistic genre, including nurturing Cantonese opera talents, organising Cantonese opera performances and setting up a Cantonese opera database. The three places are also planning to jointly hold cultural activities such as the exhibition "The Achievements of the Archaeological Works in South China", etc.
Key co-operation areas
Good progress has been made in the various key co-operation areas. On Qianhai, the State Council has approved 22 policies to support the development of Qianhai. The HKSAR Government will co-ordinate with the Shenzhen authorities in promoting the Qianhai policies and the Qianhai-related pilot measures under Supplement IX to CEPA, to assist Hong Kong business sectors to capitalise on the opportunities brought about by Qianhai development. On Lok Ma Chau Loop, at the eighth meeting of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Joint Task Force on Boundary District Development in May this year, the two sides reached a consensus on land use planning, spatial arrangement, infrastructure and supporting facilities. Development proposals have been formulated, and Stage Two Public Engagement has been completed in Hong Kong in July this year. In respect of Nansha, Hong Kong and Guangzhou have exchanged views on Nansha's development directions on a number of occasions and Guangdong Province is pushing ahead with compilation of the Nansha Plan.
Regional co-operation plan
The four regional co-operation plans set out in the Framework Agreement have seen smooth progress. Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao have completed and announced in June this year the Regional Co-operation Plan on Building a Quality Living Area, which puts forward various co-operation proposals for transforming the Greater PRD into a sustainable development region and set out directions for long-term co-operation. The compilation of the Co-operation Plan on Infrastructure Construction in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao has been completed and will be promulgated shortly. Furthermore, compilation of the Study on Action Plan for the Bay Area of the Pearl River Estuary is expected to be completed within this year. The compilation of the Tourism Co-operation Plan has commenced and the three sides will keep close liaison on the matter.
Apart from the above-mentioned areas, Hong Kong and Guangdong have also made steady progress in other areas of co-operation such as tourism, conference and exhibition services, transportation and logistics services, creative industries, testing and certification, legal matters, trade and investment promotion, medical services, food safety, social welfare, public security and contingency management.
Co-operation agreement signing ceremony
The two delegations witnessed the signing of seven letters of intent and co-operation agreements after the meeting:
* "Co-operation agreement between Hong Kong and Guangdong on jointly promoting early realisation of basic liberalisation of trade in services"
* "Co-operation agreement between Hong Kong and Guangdong on speeding up transformation and upgrading of Hong Kong-funded processing trade enterprises in Guangdong"
* "The framework agreement on exchanges and co-operation in food safety for Hong Kong/Guangdong"
* "Letter of intent on co-operation between Hong Kong Cyberport Management Company Limited and Guangdong Software Industry Association"
* "Strategic co-operation agreement between People's Government of Nanhai District, Foshan City and Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation"
* "Long-term co-operation agreement between Guangdong Meteorological Bureau and Hong Kong Observatory in numerical weather prediction technology"
* "Memorandum of understanding between Foshan Municipal Government in Guangdong Province, Guangdong Provincial Railway Construction Investment Group Company Limited, MTR Corporation Limited and China Merchants Group Company Limited"
The 15th Plenary
The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Zhu Xiaodan, co-chaired the 15th Plenary. Officials of the HKSAR Government attending the meeting included the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam; the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung; the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung; the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So; the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing; the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan; the Permanent Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Ms Chang King-yiu; the Permanent Secretary for Food and Health (Food), Mrs Marion Lai; the Acting Permanent Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury (Financial Services), Miss Salina Yan; the Head of the Central Policy Unit, Mr Shiu Sin-por; and other relevant officials. At the meeting, Mrs Lam and the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Ms Zhao Yufang, together with other officials of the two sides, reported to the meeting the progress and achievements made since the 14th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference.
The Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, Mr Zhou Bo, and the Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, Mr Wang Zhimin, also attended the meeting as special guests.
The Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council also submitted a report to the meeting on progress of the Council's work over the past year and its key initiatives for the year ahead.
Ends/Friday, September 14, 2012
CE attends 15th Plenary of Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference (1)
Mr Leung (left) shakes hands with Mr Zhu (right) prior to the plenary.
CE attends 15th Plenary of Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference (2)
Mr Leung and Mr Zhu co-chair the meeting.