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CS attends eighth working meeting of Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference

The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Rafael Hui, and the Executive Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Tang Bingquan, co-chaired the Eighth Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou this afternoon (January 29). Both sides reviewed the progress in many areas of co-operation, and agreed on the implementation plans for a number of key areas of co-operation for the coming months.

The issues covered at the meeting included co-operation on the construction of major cross-boundary infrastructural projects and boundary control points, facilitation of flow of people and cargo, and collaboration projects in the areas of environmental protection, ensuring food safety, social welfare, innovation and technology, economic and trade and financial activities.

Following is a summary of the major conclusions arrived at during the meeting:

Co-operation in construction of major cross-boundary infrastructural projects and boundary control points

Hong Kong and Guangdong both attached great importance to the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor project. The two sides agreed to make joint effort to open the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor and the Shenzhen Bay Port in July, 2007, and are finalising the detailed arrangements for co-operation before and after the opening of the control point.

Both sides agreed to target the date for commissioning the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line and the Futian Port in the first half of 2007. Progress of the works undertaken by the Hong Kong side was near completion and was in line with the schedule.

The two sides have continued to take forward the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (ERL) project proactively. The HKSAR Government has invited the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) to engage in the planning of the ERL project. KCRC will submit a study report in mid-2007.

Both sides are taking forward the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge project, and are following closely on the progress of the studies on the control point and financing arrangements, with a view to an early completion of the feasibility study report for submission to the Central Government for approval.

Both sides continued to pursue the planning study on the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai control point. The Shenzhen and HKSAR Governments have signed a co-operation agreement on the joint study. Shenzhen Government has commissioned a consultant to commence the study which is expected to complete by the end of this year. The HKSAR Government has also hired a consultant to study the land-use planning and infrastructure requirements and road links in support of the development of the proposed new control point within Hong Kong's territory. This study is expected to be completed in early 2008.

Facilitating cross-boundary flow of people and cargo

Both sides continued to enhance arrangements to facilitate cross-boundary flow of people and cargo. Legislative amendments and regulatory framework have been put in place to allow cross-boundary ferries departing from Hong Kong Island or Kowloon to stop at Skypier at the Hong Kong International Airport en route to pick up air-to-sea transit passengers destined for Pearl River Delta (PRD) cities. It is expected that ferry companies will gradually increase the number of sailings connecting the Hong Kong International Airport and the PRD Region.

Co-operation in environmental protection

The environmental authorities of both sides have embarked on a mid-term review of the PRD Regional Air Quality Management Plan to assess the effectiveness of various emission control measures, evaluate the emission trends in the region, project the aggregate volume of pollutants emission in 2010 and formulate appropriate strategies and control enhancement measures with a view to achieving the emissions reduction targets by 2010 agreed by both sides. The review is expected to complete in mid-2007.

Both sides released the first half-yearly report of the monitoring results of the PRD Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network in October, 2006. Regarding the Emission Trading Pilot Scheme for Thermal Power Plants in the PRD Region, it has been scrutinised and agreed by both sides for implementation. The two sides will set up the Hong Kong-Guangdong Emission Trading Management Panel as soon as possible to promote the pilot scheme for participation by power plants in both places.

On the protection of water quality of the PRD Region, the two sides have jointly completed a water quality model of the Pearl River Estuary region. Arrangements are being made to organise an expert review on the water quality model in the first half of 2007 so that discussion on co-operation in the next phase can proceed in 2007 to work out practicable options for regional water management.

Co-operation in food safety

Food safety is an item of common concern for both Hong Kong and Guangdong. Both sides will strengthen communication and co-operation in safeguarding food safety. A series of measures are already in force for ensuring the safety of food exported to Hong Kong. These include registering all freshwater fish farms exporting to Hong Kong at the end of 2005 as well as registering and issuing health certificate to all poultry egg farms and exporters supplying to Hong Kong since the beginning of this year.

Co-operation in social welfare

Both sides agreed to conduct studies on the setting up of an expert group on co-operation in social welfare to promote experience sharing and co-operation between the governments of both places regarding social welfare matters.

Co-operation in innovation and technology

Hong Kong and Guangdong have received 276 and 62 applications respectively under the "2006 Guangdong/Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme". Assessment of the applications will soon be completed. The results are expected to be announced in early 2007.

Hong Kong and Guangdong have been dedicated in promoting innovation and technology co-operation in recent years to enhance autonomous innovation and promote industry upgrading in the Greater PRD Region. Both sides expected to sign the co-operation agreement on "Shenzhen-Hong Kong Innovation Circle" in early 2007 to consolidate the technological resources in Hong Kong and Shenzhen and to enhance the overall competitiveness of the two places.

Co-operation in economic and trade

Both sides agreed to join in assisting the industry to understand the policy on industrial restructuring and industrial rationalisation in Guangdong Province. The HKSAR Government welcomed the Guangdong Provincial Government in providing information on industrial parks and rendering assistance as necessary.

The two sides will strengthen the work of the Expert Group on the Implementation of CEPA. The idea of setting up an expert group on professional services will also be explored.

Financial co-operation

Both sides agreed to promote exchanges in financial co-operation through, for example, organising joint seminars.

Other areas of co-operation

The two sides will continue to co-operate in other areas, including town planning and development, intellectual property rights, strategic studies, culture, sport, tourism, education and notification of infectious diseases.

Key officials attending the meeting were the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Dr Sarah Liao; the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam; the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose Lee; and the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr York Chow.

Ends/Monday, January 29, 2007