The Chief Secretary for Administration (CS), Mrs Carrie Lam, and the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr He Zhongyou, co-chaired the 21st Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Hong Kong today (March 23). Relevant officials of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and the Guangdong Provincial Government attended the meeting.
The CS said at the meeting, "At the 18th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held in September last year, the Chief Executive and the Governor of Guangdong Province, leading delegations from the two sides, reached consensus on the key areas for further co-operation and agreed that the co-operation direction this year should include the Belt and Road Initiative, liberalisation of trade in services, innovation and technology, financial services, youth, education, professional services, environmental protection, etc. On the basis of such a consensus, both sides formulated the '2016 Work Plan' covering 92 co-operation items. Both sides will actively push forward the respective items in the Work Plan."
In respect of individual areas of co-operation, the progress and direction for future co-operation are set out below:
The Belt and Road Initiative
The Belt and Road Initiative is a key medium and long term development initiative of our country in the future. Upon the issuance of the "Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road" last year, the SAR Government has immediately embarked on the planning work and proposed to capitalise on the pillar industries where Hong Kong enjoys clear advantages, namely financial services, trade and logistics, high-end services and tourism to actively facilitate and complement the nation to implement the Belt and Road Initiative. In the Guangdong-Hong Kong Cooperation "2016 Work Plan", there are a number of items aimed at promoting the development of the Belt and Road Initiative.
On financial services, the SAR Government encourages Guangdong enterprises to fully make use of Hong Kong as a platform to invest in the infrastructure and other key development projects in the Belt and Road countries. On logistics front, both Guangdong and Hong Kong will organise more trade and investment promotion activities in the Belt and Road countries and regions, so as to further strengthen the economic and investment ties with these places.
On high-end services, the SAR Government encourages co-operation between the legal and arbitration profession in Guangdong and Hong Kong, to provide Mainland and Hong Kong cross-boundary legal services for Mainland enterprises when they enter into any trade and investment agreements with the Belt and Road countries and enterprises. The SAR Government also encourages Guangdong enterprises to work together with the Hong Kong construction and engineering sector to employ architectural and engineering-related professionals and enterprises in Hong Kong to participate in the planning, construction and management of the projects, as well as to provide consultancy services, when they launch construction projects in the Belt and Road countries. Besides, the SAR Government has also set aside $200 million to support the professional services sectors in enhancing exchanges, promotion and co-operation with the Belt and Road countries and with the Mainland. These sectors in Hong Kong can make good use of the funding scheme to strengthen co-operation with the Mainland. On tourism, both sides will enhance co-operation to expand the cruise tourism market in Asia and develop regional cruise itineraries, so as to develop the tourism market in the Belt and Road regions as well as promote community exchanges with these places.
Innovation and Technology
The National 13th Five Year Plan proposes innovative development as a new driver for economic growth. Innovation and technology has been an important co-operation area between Guangdong and Hong Kong. Since its inception in 2004, the Guangdong-Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme has approved funding of over HK$800 million under the Innovation and Technology Fund for a total of 238 co-operation projects straddling across areas such as electronics, nano-technology, new energy vehicles, artificial intelligent robotics, information technology, etc. Looking ahead, both places will focus on strengthening technology transfer, exchanges on research and development and interaction among stakeholders in the Government, industry, academia and research sectors to enhance the competitiveness of innovation and technology industry of the two places. In addition, Guangdong and Hong Kong have also set up the "Hong Kong/Guangdong ICT Expert Committee" to actively promote technological development and co-operation with the ICT sector in cloud computing, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), and smart city.
Co-operation in Key Regions
The Dedicated Chapter of Hong Kong and Macao in the "Outline of the 13th Five-Year Plan for the National Economic and Social Development of the People's Republic of China" (the 13-5 Plan) expresses support in expediting development of co-operation platforms among Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao with particular regard to Qianhai, Nansha and Hengqin. The SAR Government will strengthen co-operation with the three regions in the coming year. On Qianhai, the SAR Government will continue to make good use of the existing collaboration mechanism to closely co-operate with Shenzhen and Qianhai to push forward the realisation of the "Ten Thousand, Thousand, Hundred and Ten" development target and to introduce more preferential measures for Hong Kong enterprises and professionals, so as to help them to open up the markets in the Mainland. On the principle of achieving mutual benefits through active participation and jointplanning, the SAR Government will actively promote the development of Nansha. The SAR Government also looks forward to the further expansion of liberalisation measures for Hong Kong service sectors in Hengqin, so as to benefit more Hong Kong enterprises and professionals.
Liberalisation of Trade in Services
On the basis of the Agreement between the Mainland and Hong Kong on Achieving Basic Liberalisation of Trade in Services in Guangdong, the Mainland and Hong Kong signed the CEPA Agreement on Trade in Services late last year, which has implemented the objective of basically achieving liberalisation of trade in services between the Mainland and Hong Kong by the end of the National 12th Five-Year Plan period. The Agreement will be effective starting from June 1, 2016. The SAR Government hopes that the Mainland will expedite the formulation of the implementation plans on the various liberalisation measures set out in the Agreement, so as to ensure the liberalisation measures are effectively put in place.
On youth co-operation, the Guangdong Provincial Government supported the Funding Scheme for Youth Internship in the Mainland and made arrangement for more than 500 Hong Kong youths to take up internships in enterprises, agencies and organisations in the Guangdong Province last year. In the coming year, the SAR Government will continue to work closely with the Guangdong Provincial Government to increase the internship places offered by Guangdong agencies and enterprises to more than 900 places, with a view to providing more diversified internship opportunities for Hong Kong youths. This year, the SAR Government will also launch the Youth Development Fund to provide financial assistance to Hong Kong young people who would like to start their own business. Guangdong and Hong Kong will also encourage young people of the two places to collaborate on entrepreneurial projects in the coming year.
The recently promulgated 13-5 Plan has laid out the country's support for Hong Kong in consolidating and enhancing its status as an international financial centre and strengthening its status as a global offshore Renminbi (RMB) business hub and an international asset management centre. The establishment of the China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone (GDFTZ) has also provided more co-operation opportunities for financial co-operation between Guangdong and Hong Kong. This year, both places will continue to push forward the offshore and cross-boundary RMB business, encourage financial institutions and corporates in the GDFTZ to utilise the RMB platform in Hong Kong to engage in cross-boundary investment and financing activities, including issuing RMB bond in Hong Kong, borrowing RMB funds through Hong Kong, and guiding these funds to participate in the development of the GDFTZ.
As regards deepening of co-operation of the securities market, both places will work together to seek policy support from the Central Government to lower the entry thresholds of Hong Kong financial institutions and to relax the shareholding percentage policies of joint venture securities, fund and futures companies held by Hong Kong-funded financial institutions, such that more eligible Hong Kong financial institutions will be allowed to provide services in Guangdong, facilitating the mutual access to capital markets of both places. On the participation of the fund companies of the two places in the arrangement on mutual recognition of funds, a total of 25 Mainland funds have been recognised by the Securities and Futures Commission as at end-February 2016, seven of which are managed by fund companies with Guangdong background. Guangdong and Hong Kong will continue to encourage more funds companies in both places to participate in the arrangement on mutual recognition of funds.
On professional services, both places will step up efforts to strengthen co-operation in professional sectors in particular the legal, and the construction and engineering sectors in the coming year. On legal services, a total of nine law firms operating in the form of partnership association had been given approval to operate their business in the pilot areas of Qianhai, Nansha and Hengqin. Guangdong and Hong Kong will continue to seek the extension of the scope to cover the entire Guangdong Province, so as to provide better cross-boundary legal services for Mainland clients. As for construction and related engineering services, Qianhai is currently working with Hong Kong to use a development project as a pilot to introduce and incorporate elements of Hong Kong project management system. In the coming year, the SAR Government will seek to increase the number of pilot projects by the Mainland and allow the relevant list of Hong Kong professional services providers and registration system for Hong Kong professionals currently operated in Qianhai be introduced in Nansha and Hengqin.
On environmental protection, the SAR Government will continue to implement the "Co-operation Agreement on Regional Air Pollution Control and Prevention among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao" which includes strengthening co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong in the monitoring of the air quality in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region and in air pollution forecast and studies; taking forward the mid-term review study on air pollutant emission reduction targets for 2015 and 2020 and implementation of emission reduction measures. We will continue to implement the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme to facilitate Hong Kong-funded factories in Guandgong and Hong Kong to adopt cleaner production technologies and practice.
The SAR Government will continue to maintain close liaison with the respective Mainland authorities to combat the problems arising from zero/negative tour fares and coerced shopping. The SAR Government will enhance communication and co-operation with the tourism authorities in the Mainland (including Guangdong Province) on measures on regulation of Mainland inbound tour groups, including sharing with the Mainland authorities information on the cost of receiving Mainland inbound tour groups in Hong Kong, enhancing transparency of the market, and stepping up efforts to promote "Honest and Quality Hong Kong Tours" to rebuild the image of Hong Kong in the eyes of Mainland tourists.
Co-operation in Education
To support more Hong Kong students in need of financial support to pursue undergraduate studies in the Mainland, the SAR Government is reviewing the Mainland University Study Subsidy Scheme with a view to expanding its scope to benefit not only students admitted to Mainland higher education institutions under the Scheme for Admission of Hong Kong Students to Mainland Higher Education Institutions, but also those admitted through other admission channels, thereby helping more Hong Kong students with financial need to pursue further study in quality universities in the Mainland (including Guangdong Province). Furthermore, the Education Bureau of the SAR Government and the Department of Education of the Guangdong Province signed a "Co-operation Agreement between Guangdong-Hong Kong Sister Schools" in September last year with an aim to further promoting exchange and co-operation among sister schools. Currently, there are 327 pairs of Guangdong-Hong Kong sister schools, accounting for about two-thirds of the total number of Hong Kong-Mainland sister schools. We will continue to arrange secondary, primary and special schools in Hong Kong to form sister schools with their counterparts in Guangdong Province. It is expected that at least 60 pairs of sister schools will be added in the three years from 2015/16 to 2017/18.
Other Key Co-operation Areas
Other key co-operation items in the "2016 Work Plan" include cross-boundary infrastructure, trade and investment, intellectual property, food safety, social security, etc.
2016 Work Plan of the Framework Agreement on Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation
Mrs Lam and Mr He signed the "2016 Work Plan" of the Framework Agreement at the meeting.
HKSAR Government officials accompanying the CS in attending the meeting included the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam; the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim; the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing; the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan; the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah; the Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Mr Nicholas W Yang; the Acting Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan; the Acting Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Godfrey Leung; the Permanent Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Ms Chang King-yiu; and the Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr James Lau.
Ends/Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Issued at HKT 21:38
The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam (sixth right), and the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr He Zhongyou (sixth left), co-chair the 21st Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference at the Central Government Offices, Tamar, this morning (March 23).
Mrs Lam (right) with Mr He (left) before the meeting.