The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Zhu Xiaodan, leading the delegations of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and Guangdong Province respectively, co-chaired the 16th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Hong Kong today (September 16).
The Chief Executive said, "At the 16th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference, the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Zhu Xiaodan and I reviewed the progress of Hong Kong-Guangdong co-operation over the past year and set the directions for future co-operation. With the joint efforts of both sides, implementation of the 84 co-operation items under the 2013 Work Plan drawn up earlier this year, have made good progress."
In respect of individual areas of co-operation, the progress made and directions for further co-operation are set out below:
Promoting early basic achievement of liberalisation of trade in services between Hong Kong and Guangdong
Amongst the various areas of co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong, promoting early basic achievement of liberalisation of trade in services between Hong Kong and Guangdong is one of the most important tasks, as it would contribute significantly to Guangdong's efforts to enhance its industrial structure, help Hong Kong enterprises further develop the Mainland market and support the collaborative development of the services sector of the two places.
In the past year, the joint efforts of Hong Kong and Guangdong have yielded significant results, including the incorporation into Supplement X to the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), of more than 10 Guangdong pilot measures. This has taken the total cumulative number of Guangdong pilot measures under CEPA to beyond 70, spanning over a large variety of sectors, and has moved the two places another step closer to the goal of early basic achievement of liberalisation of trade in services between Hong Kong and Guangdong in 2014.
Co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong in respect to the implementation of CEPA also made good progress. The CEPA Joint Working Group established by HKSAR Government, the relevant ministries and departments of the Central People's Government and the Guangdong Provincial People's Government, has already commenced operation and held its first meeting in Guangzhou in June this year to discuss the CEPA implementation problems in Guangdong.
Looking ahead, Hong Kong will complement Guangdong's efforts in seeking more mutually beneficial market opening initiatives; removing market entry barriers; providing national treatment to Hong Kong enterprises; simplifying administrative procedures etc., with a view to realising the important goal of fully opening up the Guangdong services market to Hong Kong.
On financial co-operation, up to August this year, cross-border Renminbi (RMB) loans registered in Qianhai have already reached RMB 7 billion. RMB trade settlement conducted through Hong Kong has continued to expand, exceeding RMB 1 900 billion in the first seven months of this year, representing a year-on-year growth of over 40%, of which over 20% was contributed by RMB trade settlement between Guangdong and Hong Kong.
Other financial services involving the two places have also recorded healthy growth. Marking the entry of Hong Kong financial services enterprises into Qianhai, Hang Seng Bank (China), Bank of East Asia and HSBC have established their Qianhai branches. Besides, the China Banking Regulatory Commission Guangdong Bureau has since the beginning of this year begun allowing Hong Kong-funded banks to apply for the establishment of multiple sub-branches in one application, hence enabling these banks to expedite the establishment of their respective service network in Guangdong. Currently, six Hong Kong-funded banks have been given approval to set up a total of about 50 sub-branches in Guangdong Province. In addition, up to end-August this year, the Hong Kong subsidiaries of eight securities companies, seven fund management companies and two futures trading companies of Guangdong have obtained licences to carry out regulated activities in Hong Kong.
In the coming year, Hong Kong and Guangdong will focus on enhancing the co-operation in four areas. Firstly, to push for the further expansion of cross-border RMB lending to other parts of the Guangdong Province (including Nansha and Hengqin). Secondly, push for development of the Qualified Domestic Individual Investor initiative to facilitate Guangdong investors to participate in the Hong Kong investment market, hence enriching their investment choices. Thirdly, further lowering the thresholds for entry of Hong Kong securities companies into the Mainland market, gradually expanding their scope of services, and raising the upper limit for Hong Kong side share-holding in joint-venture securities companies, fund management companies, commodities futures companies and securities investment advisory companies, with a view to attracting more Hong Kong companies in the financial sector to set up operations in Guangdong, hence providing people in Guangdong with high quality and diversified investment services. Finally, to encourage the regulatory authorities in the Mainland to consider adopting a step-by-step approach to lower the entry thresholds applicable to entry of Hong Kong property insurance companies into Guangdong, and to encourage Guangdong enterprises to establish their captive insurers in Hong Kong to enhance risk management for their overseas investment and business.
Co-operation between the two sides in professional services continued to deepen in the past year. For construction and related engineering services, the Development Bureau of HKSAR has reached consensus with the Qianhai Management Authority to explore arrangements for Hong Kong-registered professionals and enterprises to provide professional services directly in Qianhai, and to expand their scope of services so that they can provide the full range of comprehensive services throughout a project, including engineering design, project management and works monitoring services. On accounting services, the Shenzhen Municipal Government published in January this year the provisional implementation arrangements for allowing Hong Kong professionals to become partners of accounting firms in Qianhai. The HKSAR Government will work further with the Ministry of Finance to work out other implementation details. Currently, a total of 22 Hong Kong service suppliers have obtained certificates for setting up wholly owned clinics/outpatient clinics in Guangdong. The first wholly-owned Hong Kong-invested eye hospital has also commenced operation in Shenzhen in March this year.
On tourism co-operation, to tie in with the commissioning of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong in June this year, the two places will strengthen co-operation to promote cruise tourism and work together to develop the cruise tourism market with Hong Kong as the homeport. In addition, Hong Kong and Guangdong will continue to strengthen co-operation in publicity, promotion and development of tourism products, hence enhancing mutually beneficial development of the tourism industries of the two places.
Commerce and trade
To promote the upgrading and restructuring of Hong Kong-funded enterprises, the Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales (the BUD Fund) launched by the HKSAR Government has began to accept applications from June last year. Up to end-August this year, a total of 145 applications amounting to HK$130 million had been approved. On the other hand, over 400 Hong Kong-funded enterprises participated in the 2013 China Processing Trade Products Fair organised by the Guangdong Provincial Government in this June, which provided an effective platform for the Hong Kong companies to tap into the Mainland domestic market.
Innovation and technology co-operation
Implementing a policy initiative announced by the Central People's Government in June 2012, a Business Startup Base for the Youth of Hong Kong and Shenzhen has already been established in June this year, to provide a good environment for the young people to pursue their aspirations in the innovation and technology sector.
As regards the creative industries, the State General Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film and Television has delegated the authority for approving Cantonese versions of Hong Kong films for the purpose of film festivals in Guangdong to the Radio, Film & TV Administration of Guangdong Province. This may shorten the time required for importation of Hong Kong films into Guangdong, facilitate the access of Cantonese versions of Hong Kong films to the Guangdong market, and enhance co-operation between the film industries of the two places. The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and the Radio, Film & TV Administration of Guangdong Province signed a "Co-operation Agreement between Hong Kong and Guangdong on Promoting and Deepening the Development of Film Industries" after the meeting to promote further co-operation in this sector.
On the construction of cross-boundary infrastructure, site formation and related infrastructure works of the Hong Kong side Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Port (BCP) has commenced in phases from April 2013. Design of the Hong Kong side BCP building has also started in January 2013. The two sides will endeavour to complete the design and construction of the BCP as soon as possible, such that it could commence operation by no later than 2018.
Co-operation on environmental protection
On environmental protection, both sides will continue to take forward the air pollutant emission reduction work, with a view to achieving the emission reduction targets for 2015 and 2020, established by the two sides last year. The two sides have completed the study on reduction of vessel emissions in Pearl River Delta (PRD) waters, and are currently discussing the establishment of a working group to promote the reduction of vessel emissions in the region, with a view to further improving the region's air quality.
In the coming year, the two places will focus efforts on improving air quality, strengthening ecological conservation and improving water quality, for the sake of continuously enhancing the living environment in the region.
On education co-operation, both sides have further enhanced transportation arrangements for cross-boundary students. With the support and co-operation of the Guangdong Government, the HKSAR Government launched the On-board Clearance Service and Simplified Clearance Procedure in the 2012-13 school year to facilitate the clearance of cross-boundary students.
In respect of higher education, the Chinese University of Hong Kong has entered into agreements with Shenzhen Government and Shenzhen University regarding the establishment of a Shenzhen campus. The various preparatory work is making good progress. Improvement works for the start-up area of the campus would be completed by end-2013, in order to gear up for the acceptance of students in 2014.
Furthermore, the two sides have officially implemented the multiple certification arrangement outlined in the Framework Agreement on Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation, in the beauty care and hairdressing trade. Under this arrangement, candidates would be able to obtain certifications issued by the Mainland, Hong Kong and international professional organizations by sitting one single examination. The first batch of successful candidates has already received the certificates in March this year.
Combating smuggling activities
Hong Kong and Guangdong have stepped up co-operation on combating parallel goods smuggling activities this year, including the launch of a joint anti-smuggling operation in February this year targeting parallel trading of daily consumables. Besides, the two sides signed a co-operation agreement after today's plenary meeting to establish a mechanism for co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong in anti-smuggling, with a view to strengthening communication and taking sustainable and effective measures jointly to combat parallel trading activities.
Key co-operation areas
Both Qianhai and Nansha have made significant progress. On Qianhai, up to June this year, among the 22 supportive measures for Qianhai approved by the State Council in June 2012, implementation of 16 measures have commenced, and the Mainland authorities is working on the implementation of the remaining six measures.
In respect of Nansha, the Hong Kong/Guangzhou Co-operation Working Group held its second meeting in January this year, and reached a consensus to incorporate preferential measures for Hong Kong companies into implementation arrangements for the Nansha Development Plan. Moreover, the Guangzhou Municipal Government organised a promotion seminar for Nansha in Hong Kong in May this year, and signed co-operation agreements with 17 enterprises and organisations after the seminar, involving investment of over RMB 230 billion.
Looking forward, the HKSAR Government will continue to maintain close liaison with the relevant ministries and authorises in Guangdong and Shenzhen, to convey the views of the Hong Kong business sector on implementation arrangements for the Qianhai policies and the Nansha Development Plan. In addition, the HKSAR Government has also reached consensus with the Zhuhai Municipal Government to set up a working group, under the framework of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference, to enhance co-operation to help Hong Kong companies to take advantage of the business opportunities arising from the development of Hengqin.
Apart from the above, Hong Kong and Guangdong have also made steady progress in other areas of co-operation, such as investment promotion, testing and certification, e-commerce, legal services, culture, intellectual property rights, medical services and infrastructure construction.
Co-operation agreement signing ceremony
The two delegations witnessed the signing of eight letters of intent and co-operation agreements after the meeting:
* "Co-operation agreement between Hong Kong and Guangdong on early basic achievement of liberalization of trade in services";
* "Letter of Intent on Co-operation between the Authority of Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone of Shenzhen and the Development Bureau of HKSAR";
* "Co-operation Agreement between Hong Kong and Guangdong on Promoting and Deepening the Development of Film Industries";
* "Co-operation Agreement of the Guangdong-Hong Kong Standards Working Group";
* "Agreement on Guangdong/Hong Kong Co-operation on Intellectual Property (2013-2014)";
* "Co-operation Agreement between Hong Kong and Guangdong on Anti-smuggling";
* "Co-operation Agreement between Hong Kong and Guangdong on Further Enhancing Collaboration on Tourism Industry"; and
* "The Agreement on Information Framework Co-operation".
The 16th Plenary
The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Zhu Xiaodan, co-chaired the 16th Plenary. Officials of the HKSAR Government attending the meeting included the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam; the Secretary for Justice, Mr Rimsky Yuen, SC; the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam; the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung; the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing; the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung; the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Professor K C Chan; the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So; the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man; the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing; the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan; the Acting Secretary for Security, Mr John Lee; the Acting Secretary for Education, Mr Kelvin Yeung; the Permanent Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Ms Chang King-yiu; the Acting Solicitor General, Mr Peter Wong; 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 15th Plenary Meeting 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 Yang Jian, also attended the meeting as special guests.
Ends/Monday, September 16, 2013