The following is issued on behalf of the secretariat to the Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council:
The Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council (ECCPC) and the Taiwan-Hong Kong Economic and Cultural Co-operation Council (THEC) held their Third Joint Meeting in Taipei today (September 25). The meeting was co-chaired by the ECCPC Chairperson, Mr Charles Lee, and the THEC Chairman, Mr Lin Chen-kuo. The meeting began with speeches from the ECCPC Honorary Chairperson, Mr John C Tsang, and the deputy head of the "Mainland Affairs Council" in Taiwan, Mr Kao Charng, who spoke on behalf of Dr Lai Shin-yuan.
At the joint meeting today, both sides were encouraged by the progress achieved through the ECCPC and THEC platform on various priority areas of co-operation in the past year. Such achievements were testimony to the successful operation of the institutionalised discussion platform between Hong Kong and Taiwan, which has continued to bring benefits to the people and various sectors of the two places. The achievements included:
(1) On mutual establishment of offices, the Hong Kong Economic, Trade and Cultural Office was established and has been running smoothly in Taipei, and in the spirit of reciprocity the Chung Hwa Travel Service in Hong Kong was renamed as the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office to reflect its existing functions.
(2) On entry facilitation for tourists, the Hong Kong side relaxed entry arrangements for people from Taiwan. Since September last year, holders of a valid Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents may visit Hong Kong for 30 days, extended from seven days, regardless of whether they possess an entry/exit endorsement for the Mainland. A new arrangement was further introduced in September this year to allow Taiwan visitors to make prior arrival registration on their own through the Internet free of charge.
(3) On aviation, the two Councils signed an air services arrangement, which increased the flight frequency, number of destinations, and passenger and cargo capacities between Hong Kong and Taiwan.
(4) On trade facilitation, the Hong Kong side streamlined the workflow of the Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement (ECFA) trans-shipment facilitation scheme and reduced the relevant fees. This has helped the trade in the trans-shipment of goods across the Strait through Hong Kong. In the first eight months of this year, the total value of goods was over US$700 million, with tariff savings of some US$44 million.
(5) On creative industries, the ECCPC Chairperson and the THEC Chairman each led a delegation to visit large-scale design exhibitions in Taiwan and Hong Kong respectively. The Cultural Co-operation Committees of the two Councils also co-organised the "Second Hong Kong-Taiwan Cultural Co-operation Forum", allowing representatives of relevant sectors in Hong Kong and Taiwan to exchange views on topics relating to the creative industries.
(6) On arts and culture, the Hong Kong-Taiwan Cultural Co-operation Committee under the ECCPC will organise the "Hong Kong Week" in Taipei from November 23 to December 2, comprising dramas, musical and dance performances, video shows and art exhibitions, etc, to showcase the East-meets-West culture and arts of Hong Kong to the Taiwanese people. In May this year, the Hong Kong side issued a free publication entitled "Art and Culture @ Hong Kong" to introduce arts-related destinations in Hong Kong to the Taiwan community.
(7) On education exchange and co-operation, the education authorities in Taiwan led delegations to Hong Kong to meet with the local educational agencies for general exchange and to visit post-secondary institutions. Relevant agencies from both sides will promote mutual understanding and good practices of quality assurance of the higher education sectors. In addition, starting from 2012, Hong Kong students can apply for admission to universities in Taiwan based on their Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination results.
(8) Both sides agreed in principle to enter into memoranda of understanding on four areas of co-operation, namely establishing a standing reporting mechanism in respect of public health and food safety incidents, mutual recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards, avoidance of double taxation in shipping income, and co-operation on insurance supervision. Both sides wish to complete the discussions and finalise the signing arrangements as soon as possible.
The ECCPC and the THEC have agreed to take forward a wide range of priority areas of co-operation involving public policies between Hong Kong and Taiwan. At the joint meeting today, both sides further agreed to take forward through the ECCPC-THEC platform four new areas of co-operation, namely environmental protection, heritage conservation, co-operation on testing and certification industries and notification of unsafe consumer goods, as well as exchanges between the investment promotion agencies of both sides.
The ECCPC and the THEC achieved fruitful outcomes in various areas of co-operation in the past year, and have agreed to take forward the above-mentioned new co-operation areas. This is testimony to the successful and effective operation of the discussion platform of the two Councils, and marks another step forward in Hong Kong-Taiwan relations.
Ends/Tuesday, September 25, 2012