|Tenth Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held in Hong Kong today
The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Huang Huahua, leading the delegations of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and Guangdong Province respectively, co-chaired the tenth Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held in Hong Kong today (August 2). The meeting reviewed the progress of their co-operation over the past year and discussed the future direction. Both sides agreed that concrete results have been attained in different areas including major cross-boundary infrastructural projects and boundary control points, air quality improvement, food safety, economic and trade, tourism, innovation and technology, as well as social welfare.
Co-operation in major cross-boundary infrastructural projects and boundary control points
The HKSAR Government has decided to construct the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (ERL) based on the "Dedicated Corridor" option. This will not only greatly reduce the traveling time between Hong Kong and Guangzhou, but also help strengthen Hong Kong's status as the regional transportation hub and as the "southern gate" for traveling to and from the Mainland. Together with the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, the HKSAR Government is now actively discussing with the respective institutions of the Mainland on issues including the connection points of the Mainland and the Hong Kong sections of the ERL, a coherent design of railway tunnels in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, as well as the allocation of sufficient suitable train path for the ERL trains. Both sides will be working closely to finalise the arrangements of the ERL with a view to an early commencement of the construction works.
Construction of the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line and the Futian Port, which has been taken forward actively by both sides, has already been completed. The Port Administration Office of the Central Government has already inspected and certified the relevant facilities of the Futian Port. Both sides agreed to set August 15 as the target date for the commissioning of Futian Port and the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line. This infrastructure, the second cross-boundary railway for people of Hong Kong and Guangdong, will ease the congestion for passengers at the Lo Wu control point and meet the demand of the rapidly growing cross-boundary passenger traffic.
The feasibility study of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge project is near completion. The governments of Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao are now engaging in research and discussion on two remaining issues of the feasibility study, namely the locations of the boundary crossing facilities (BCFs) under the "separate locations of BCFs" mode and the project financing arrangements. With the concerted and dedicated efforts of the three governments, together with the co-ordination of the Central Government, the feasibility study report is expected to be finalised and submitted for approval by the State Council soon, after which the construction works of the project will commence.
Besides, the two sides are actively taking forward the planning study on the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai control point which is expected to complete by the end of this year as scheduled. Both sides will continue to work on the enhancement of cross-boundary transportation services, including the cross-boundary helicopter services and direct cargo freight services.
Co-operation in Economic and Trade
Hong Kong and Guangdong will ensure the effective implementation of the Supplement IV to the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), in particular the liberalisation measures to be introduced on a pilot basis in the Guangdong Province covering, for instance, convention and exhibition service, cultural service and elderly service. Both sides will also work to streamline the approval procedures for the service industry to operate in Guangdong Province so as to enhance the co-operation and development of the service industry in the two places.
Both sides agreed that assisting Hong Kong enterprises in Guangdong Province to upgrade and restructure will be one of the major areas of co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong in future. The two sides agreed to immediately set up the Hong Kong/Guangdong Expert Group on the Restructuring and Upgrading of the Processing Trade to jointly follow up the issues and assist Hong Kong-owned enterprises in Guangdong Province to upgrade and restructure, including transforming to foreign-invested enterprises. The HKSAR Government had made some suggestions to Guangdong to facilitate these enterprises to have a smooth transition.
Improving air quality
On the environmental front, Hong Kong and Guangdong are conducting an interim review on the effectiveness of various emissions control measures. The meeting reaffirmed both sides' determination and commitment to achieve the jointly agreed emissions reduction targets by 2010.
To improve the environment and air quality of the Pearl River Delta region as early as possible, both sides agreed to further strengthen and enhance co-operation to promote energy efficiency and cleaner production for their enterprises to ensure the sustainable development of Hong Kong and Guangdong.
Protecting food safety
On the food safety front, the Guangdong authorities will implement a system of applying inspection and quarantine seals to the means of transport for freshwater fish supplied to Hong Kong starting this month. This new arrangement will effectively enhance the management of food imports to Hong Kong during the transportation process and raise further the safety standard of food supply from Guangdong.
To further improve the regulatory mechanism for ensuring food safety in Hong Kong while coping with the strengthened measures of the Mainland, the HKSAR Government is preparing to draft a set of food safety law to tighten the management of the food supply process. Food importers and wholesales will be put under regulation gradually in a bid to ensure the overall safety of food imports.
Co-operation in tourism
On the tourism front, the two sides attained concrete achievements in promoting the "honest and quality tourism" for Mainland tours coming to Hong Kong and cracking down the problems of "zero/negative fare packages". Both sides will continue to promote the cruise industry, and implement the arrangement under the Supplement III to the CEPA of allowing Hong Kong travel agents established in the Guangdong Province to operate on a pilot basis group tours to Hong Kong and Macao for residents of Guangdong Province.
Co-operation in innovation and technology
The "Guangdong/Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme" introduced in 2004 was welcomed by research institutes and enterprises in the two places, with $1.15 billion being allocated by both sides to support 416 research and development (R&D) projects in the past three years. Both sides will continue to implement the funding scheme this year to encourage joint R&D projects by Hong Kong and Guangdong organisations as well as to promote industry upgrading. The signing of the co-operation agreement on the Shenzhen/Hong Kong Innovation Circle in May by the Governments of the two places had provided new momentum for the technological co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong.
Co-operation in social welfare
Both sides agreed to set up the Hong Kong/Guangdong Expert Group on Social Welfare Co-operation to enhance understanding between the two governments on social welfare issues and policies, and to strengthen co-operation in social welfare issues of mutual concern on social welfare.
Other areas of co-operation
With the closer and more diversified co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong, both sides agreed to continue to take forward other co-operation areas, including intellectual property rights, informatisation, town planning and development, finance, culture, sports, education, notification of infectious diseases, exchange of personnel, and concerted efforts in promoting Pan-Pear River Delta co-operation.
Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Agreement Signing Ceremony
Hong Kong and Guangdong signed six co-operation agreements after the meeting. They are:
A summary of the six Hong Kong/Guangdong co-operation agreements is at Annex (PDF).
Co-operation achievements since the ninth Plenary
At the meeting, the Chief Secretary for Administration of the HKSAR Government, Mr Henry Tang, the Executive Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Tang Bingquan, and other Hong Kong and Guangdong officials reported on the co-operation achievements since the ninth Plenary.
The tenth Plenary
The Chief Executive of the HKSAR, Mr Donald Tsang, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Huang Huahua, co-chaired the tenth Plenary in Hong Kong today. Principal officials of the HKSAR Government attending the meeting included the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Henry Tang; the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Frederick Ma; the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam; the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow; the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung; the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau; and the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng.
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, Ms Guo Li, also attended the meeting as special guests.
The Chairman of the Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council, Dr Victor Fung, attended the relevant section of the meeting and briefed the Plenary on the Council's collaboration with Guangdong business organisations in the past year and their work plan for the coming year.
Ends/Thursday, August 2, 2007