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HK-Guangdong co-operation working meeting held in Guangzhou


The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, and the Executive Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Tang Bingquan, held the second working meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou today (January 5). Officials from Hong Kong and Guangdong also attended the meeting.

Both sides reviewed the achievements and progress made since the Sixth Plenary of the Joint Conference. They also agreed on the priority items for the first half of the year.

They were committed to focusing on the following areas in the coming six months:

1) capitalise on the implementation of the Mainland/Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA);

2) investment promotion activities;

3) tourism development promotion;

4) major infrastructure works;

5) increase the frequency of Guangzhou-Hong Kong through-train service; and

6) simplify the student recruitment procedures in the Mainland by local higher education institutions.

With the full implementation of CEPA, Mr Tsang proposed that authorities in Guangdong cities could provide "one-stop" services to Hong Kong businesses in the 18 service sectors opened up under CEPA. This would lead to increased access to the business operations of Hong Kong entrepreneurs in these cities and increase the flow of information. Mr Tang supported the idea and the proposal will be put into practice in phases by the cities.

Both sides agreed to establish hyperlinks between the CEPA website of Hong Kong's Trade and Industry Department and the various government investment information websites totalling 40 in Guangdong early this year. Hong Kong businesses should find it more convenient to obtain information. The two sides will also jointly organise a "CEPA week" in Guangzhou in mid-February and a logistics fair in March, also in Guangzhou, to further promote the opportunities under CEPA to investors and the trade in both places.

They also agreed to step up promotion of Hong Kong's advantages as a platform for Mainland enterprises to access the international market with a view to attracting more Guangdong enterprises to invest in Hong Kong.

To further extend Hong Kong/Guangdong co-operation throughout the hinterland - also one of the items endorsed at the Sixth Plenary of the Joint Conference - Mr Tsang will lead a Hong Kong business delegation to visit Zhanjiang and Yangjiang in April and some other cities later on. Delegates will explore opportunities in tourism, logistics and business between Hong Kong and West Guangdong to take advantage of the strengths of both places, particularly in areas that are beneficial for mutual economic and trade development. The visit will also lay the groundwork for economic changes to Hong Kong and the region that will be brought about by the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.

Based on the work promoting the Greater Pearl River Delta abroad last year, both sides agreed to continue with overseas promotional activities in 2004 with a view to exploring more business opportunities. The preparatory work will be done in the first half of the year.

On tourism, following the opening up of six more Guangdong cities to the "Individual Visit Scheme" on January 1, both sides are preparing for the extension of the scheme to the whole province. From late July to December 29, 2003, Hong Kong had more than 640,000 visitors from the Mainland. They contributed an estimated $3.5 billion in consumer spending. Guangdong and Hong Kong will jointly launch a series of international promotional activities to further promote the Pearl River Delta as a destination for overseas tourists.

On major infrastructural projects, both sides agreed to speed up advance work on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. The three sides will set up an Advance Work Co-ordination Office in Guangzhou early this year. It will commission a feasibility study on the bridge with a view to completing the study by the end of this year. Hong Kong and Guangdong also will speed up the preliminary co-ordination work on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Railway Link and the work on the Shenzhen Western Corridor project.

Both sides will continue with infrastructure works at the control points, including the colocation of immigration and customs facilities, the new boundary bridges at Lok Ma Chau and Sha Tau Kok, and the passenger bridges at Huanggang-Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu.

They also agreed to set up a notification mechanism to ensure effective communication and handling of emergency situation at the boundary control points. The mechanism is expected to be operational before the coming Lunar New Year.

Both sides agreed to discuss further the details for operating the 11th and 12th pairs of Guangzhou-Hong Kong through-trains and the necessary arrangements at boundary control points. The frequency of the Guangzhou-Hong Kong through-train has been increased from seven to eight pairs a day in June last year and further to 10 pairs in October.

Both sides will also simplify the procedures for Hong Kong higher education institutions in recruiting Mainland students to pursue degree courses in Hong Kong in a "private" capacity. Under the new arrangement, Hong Kong higher education institutions will be able to recruit students directly on the Mainland without having to go through agencies. The University Grants Committee of the Hong Kong Government has invited heads of institutions to devise a set of fair and transparent recruiting and registration procedures in due course.

The Sixth Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference was held in Hong Kong on August 5 last year. At the meeting, the Chief Executive and Guangdong Governor reached consensus on co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong. Hong Kong/Guangdong co-operation will leverage on the opportunities arising from CEPA, and each side will capitalise on and complement each other with its own strengths in the further promotion of economic development of the Greater Pearl River Delta Region.

With the unfailing efforts of the relevant authorities of the two governments, the 13 priority items endorsed at the first working meeting of the Joint Conference have all been implemented. The Guangdong-Hong Kong economic and trade seminars, overseas trade promotion activities, the "Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau Investment and Promotion Fair" and Hong Kong international tourism expo were successfully concluded.

Measures taken to cope with the influx of tourists from Guangdong under the Individual Visit Scheme and initiatives to strengthen the handling capacity of cargo and passengers at the boundary points have proven to be effective. As one of the important co-operation items, the Guangdong-Hong Kong notification mechanism on infectious diseases has been implemented and became operational in the recent SARS case.

Ends/Monday, January 5, 2004


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