Following is a question by the Hon Ng Leung-sing and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (January 6):
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China's Proposal on Formulating the Thirteenth Five Year Plan on National Economic and Social Development (13th Five-Year Plan), promulgated by the Xinhua News Agency on November 3 last year, sought to "give full play to the unique strengths of Hong Kong and Macao, elevate the position and role of Hong Kong and Macao in our country's economic development and opening up to the outside world", and "give support to Hong Kong to consolidate its status as an international centre for financial services, shipping and trade for participating in China's two-way opening up, development of 'Belt and Road' initiative, as well as give support to Hong Kong to reinforce its status as a global hub for offshore Renminbi business, so as to promote the development of financing, commerce and trade, logistics, professional services, etc. to move towards the high-end and high value-added direction". In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether the authorities have made any initial preparations to complement the country's implementation of the 13th Five-Year Plan; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) of the specific measures in place to facilitate Hong Kong in "participating in China's two-way opening up" and "development of 'Belt and Road' initiative"; and
(3) given that the 13th Five-Year Plan has pointed out that "innovation is the primary driving force to spearhead development", how the Innovation and Technology Bureau will spearhead Hong Kong's work in respect of innovation and technology to complement the development of the country?
Our consolidated reply to the question raised by Hon Ng, after consulting relevant policy bureaux, is as follows:
(1) and (2) The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSAR Government) attaches great importance to the National 13th Five-Year Plan and has been actively taking part in the relevant preparation work under the principle of "one country, two systems". The Steering Committee on Co-operation with the Mainland, chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration, is responsible for providing the steer to and co-ordinating with policy bureaux and departments on efforts to complement the National 13th Five-Year Plan, and conducting studies on the key proposals that will help promote the overall development of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Country. The HKSAR Government has submitted information papers to the Legislative Council Panel on Commerce and Industry in April 2014 and February 2015 respectively to inform Members of the work of the HKSAR Government in complementing the National 13th Five-Year Plan, including the proposals and work progress, under the principle of "one country, two systems". Moreover, policy bureaux and departments have also consulted their respective sectors and advisory committees, as well as the Economic Development Commission, the Commission on Strategic Development, and the Consultative Committee on Economic and Trade Co-operation between Hong Kong and the Mainland etc., so as to solicit views on the National 13th Five-Year Plan and on the proposals put forward by the HKSAR Government. The HKSAR Government has earlier submitted the formal proposals covering areas such as finance, commerce and trade, as well as innovation and technology to the Central Government.
The Communist Party of China Central Committee's Proposal on Formulating the Thirteenth Five-year Plan on National Economic and Social Development (the Proposal) was formally promulgated in early November 2015. In Part VI of the Proposal on "Striving to Achieve Cooperative Mutual Benefits through Upholding the Principle of Open Development", three paragraphs are dedicated to the development of the HKSAR. On the whole, these paragraphs on the HKSAR acknowledge the pivotal role of HKSAR's sustained development in the overall development of the Country, as well as the room and opportunities for development in a number of key areas.
As regards the specific measures relating to the participation in the Country's two-way opening up, the HKSAR Government has all along been committed to promoting mutual access between the financial markets of the Mainland and Hong Kong. The mutual recognition of funds between the Mainland and Hong Kong came into operation in July 2015, with the first batch of authorised funds announced in December 2015. The arrangement is conducive to enriching the types of Renminbi fund products offered in the Hong Kong market, and deepens the mutual access between the financial markets of the Mainland and Hong Kong. Also, the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect has been operating smoothly since its launch in November 2014. With the support of the Central Government, Hong Kong has developed into a global leading offshore Renminbi business hub in recent years. Following the International Monetary Fund's decision in November 2015 to include the Renminbi in the Special Drawing Rights currency basket, the HKSAR Government will continue to promote Hong Kong's Renminbi platform and services, with a view to capitalising on the opportunities arising from the latest development to further promote offshore Renminbi business in Hong Kong.
Under the principle of "one country, two systems", the HKSAR enjoys the unique advantages of "one country" and "two systems". While exploring overseas business opportunities, the HKSAR can also act as a "super-connector" between the Mainland and the international community to complement the Country's development strategies of "going global" and "attracting foreign investment". For example, the Agreement between the Mainland and Hong Kong on Achieving Basic Liberalisation of Trade in Services in Guangdong (the Guangdong Agreement) signed in 2014 has basically achieved in advance the liberalisation of trade in services in the Mainland for Hong Kong in the form of early and pilot implementation. It was the first free trade agreement drawn up by the Mainland with pre-establishment national treatment and in the form of negative list. On the basis of the Guangdong Agreement, the HKSAR Government and the Ministry of Commerce signed in November 2015 a new agreement on trade in services under the framework of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement to further open up the services market and basically achieve the liberalisation of trade in services between the Mainland and Hong Kong, so as to provide catalyst for Mainland's economic transformation and upgrading, as well as modernisation of its services industries, and through deep integration of markets for trading services between the Mainland and Hong Kong, further facilitate the flow of capital, personnel and technology between the two places, complementing the Country's development strategies of "going global" and "attracting foreign investment".
As regards the specific measures relating to the participation in the "Belt and Road" initiative, the HKSAR Government has stepped up efforts to research and gather information on the business and investment environment of the "Belt and Road" regions so that the business community can keep close track of the development of the emerging markets of the "Belt and Road" and explore business opportunities, and also strengthened economic and trade ties with the markets along the "Belt and Road" and actively sought to conclude free trade agreements and investment promotion and protection agreements etc. with the "Belt and Road" countries. At the same time, the HKSAR Government will actively make use of overseas visits by principal officials and overseas road shows to strengthen the message that Hong Kong is a major service platform. The HKSAR Government and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council will co-organise the inaugural "Belt and Road Summit" to be held in May 2016 in Hong Kong, with government and business representatives from the economies along the "Belt and Road" being invited to share insights on the various opportunities offered. The promotion of the "Belt and Road" initiative and exploration of business opportunities will also be featured in major international forums and expositions held in Hong Kong.
As the infrastructural development in the "Belt and Road" region gains momentum, Hong Kong can serve as the major investment and financing centre for the "Belt and Road". Enterprises can either raise funds via initial public offerings (IPO) and post-IPO activities, or make use of diversified financing channels, including bond issuances and bank loans. Hong Kong has been striving to establish a platform for facilitating the development of Islamic finance and has successfully issued Islamic bonds (Sukuk) in September 2014 and June 2015 respectively. This can serve to demonstrate the viability of using Hong Kong as a financing service platform for Islamic countries in the "Belt and Road" region.
Furthermore, as one of the global centres for asset management, risk management and multinational corporate treasury, Hong Kong has extensive experience and advantages in terms of a low tax regime, a multi-talent pool of professionals and a financial infrastructure and regulatory regime on par with international standards. Hong Kong is able to provide financial services to enterprises and financial institutions in some 60 economies along the "Belt and Road", as well as meeting the new demands for wealth and risk management services in the region.
(3) The National 13th Five-Year Plan advocates innovation as the new economic driver, encouraging the development of technological innovation, innovation in service industries, smart production, high-end industries and information technology, etc., and promoting mass entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as implementing strategic policies such as the "Internet Plus" and "Made in China 2025". With its robust information and communications technology infrastructure, sound legal system and intellectual property protection regime, Hong Kong is well-positioned to develop high value-added and high-tech innovation and technology industries. According to the Innovation and Technology Bureau (ITB), it will encourage the local industries to capitalise on the development of the Country, and actively participate in and tap into the Mainland market, grasping the opportunities brought about by new economic development in the Mainland. In addition, Hong Kong has a wealth of experience in international trade, and can serve as a bridge for the Mainland industries to enter the international markets.
As regards collaboration on scientific research, the ITB advises that it will actively promote Hong Kong as the "super-connector" in the arena of innovation and technology, forging close ties with top local, Mainland and global research and development (R&D) institutes in creating more opportunities for collaboration on scientific research. Currently, Hong Kong already has 16 Partner State Key Laboratories and 6 Hong Kong branches of the Chinese National Engineering Research Centres, covering different scientific research disciplines. Universities and R&D institutes in Hong Kong can directly apply for funding of the National Basic Research Program of China and National Hi-Tech Research and Development Program of China through their Mainland subsidiaries.
Ends/Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:45