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HK/Guangdong co-operation third working meeting held in Hong Kong *********************************************************

The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, and the Executive Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Tang Bingquan, are satisfied with the progress made in carrying out the co-operation items since the second working meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference (Joint Conference) in January.

At the third working meeting in Hong Kong today (May 21), they went through a number of projects which would begin in the second half of the year. These include:

* The 2004 Dongguan Seminar on Intellectual Property and the Development of Small and Medium Enterprises in late May;

* Co-hosting the Greater Pearl River Delta (HK/Guangdong) On-line Investment Seminar in June;

* Joint promotion with Shenzhen tourism authority in International Travel Expo Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur in July.

* Organising business visits to Shaoguan and Qingyuan in mid or late June.

* Completing the construction of the interfacing pier at the southern end of the Shenzhen portion of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor (HK-SWC) in June to connect the Shenzhen section and Hong Kong section of the corridor; and the completion of the design for facilities and venues at the control point of the HK-SWC before end of the year;

* Visiting the Mainland enterprises in PRD by Hong Kong universities and research institutes in July to match the former's demand with the latter's advanced technology;

* Jointly hosting the International Sporting Goods Fair by Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau in Guangzhou in September;

* Joint trade promotion activities in London in late October;

* Co-hosting the second Pearl River Delta Software Industry Forum with the Guangdong Province in Guangzhou in the fourth quarter;

* Holding the second seminar on Guangdong/Hong Kong trade and economic co-operation in the second half of the year;

* Convening the Fifth Greater Pearl River Delta Cultural Co-operation Meeting in the second half of the year;

* Completing installation of air-conditioning system at the Lowu cross-boundary footbridge and the works of the new cross-boundary vehicular bridge at the Lok Ma Chau/Huanggang Control Point towards the end of the year.

During the meeting, Mr Tsang thanked the Guangdong side for their positive responses to the request to encourage competitive Guangdong enterprises, in particular private enterprises with great potential, to list and raise funds in Hong Kong and embark on joint ventures with Hong Kong's service industry. The Invest Hong Kong (of the HKSAR Government) will provide a one-stop service to these private enterprises which are interested to develop their business in Hong Kong.

On the implementation of the Mainland/Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), both sides agreed that good progress had been recorded since the last Plenary of the Joint Conference. The Expert Group on Implementation of CEPA has held two plenary meetings in Guangdong and Hong Kong. Progress has been made in areas such as information dissemination, promotion and facilitation of business operation.

Despite the initial achievements in the implementation of CEPA, both governments have to continue their efforts to meet the aspiration of the industries. In particular, Hong Kong enterprises hope that the regulatory authorities can strengthen information dissemination and simplify the application and approval procedures to facilitate trade investment. Against this background, Mr Tsang proposed to his counterpart to consider providing further one-stop inquiry and vetting services on the basis of the existing facilitating measures.

Following the visit to Zhangjiang and Yangjiang, the business and industry sector have generally shown a greater interest in investing in eastern and western Guangdong, Mr Tsang said. To further explore the business opportunities in western Guangdong, the Trade Development Council will continue to orgainse business visits to Shaoguan and Qingyuan in June.

At the meeting, Mr Tsang welcomed the suggestion by the Guangdong side to give full support to the development of Hong Kong enterprises running business in Guangdong, and the pledge to resolve the power shortage faced by these enterprises in Guangdong. Mr Tsang noted that most Hong Kong enterprises took their production investments in Guangdong very seriously. He believed that the Guangdong Province would remain a hinterland for Hong Kong's direct investment when the investment and the business environment continued to improve.

Both sides would jointly organise overseas business promotion activities, including a trade promotion in London at the end of the year.

The meeting also agreed to upgrade the "Hong Kong/Guangdong Special Panel on Town Planning" by merging it with the "Expert Group on Information Exchange". The new "Expert Group on Hong Kong/Guangdong Town Planning and Development" will be put under the Joint Conference. A proposal will be submitted to the upcoming Seventh Meeting of the Joint Conference for confirmation.

Mr Tsang said that the upgrading of the panel would benefit the co-ordination of planning for the region as a whole. Both sides hope to make better use of the new expert group to work on more preliminary, visionary and strategic planning, and to carry out more advance studies on major infrastructure projects. On the premise of building Guangdong and Hong Kong as one of the greater PRD economic centres, more preliminary exchanges and studies will ensure that the future planning of individual cross-boundary infrastructure projects can better align with the development of the whole region.

At the meeting, the two sides discussed the Pan-PRD regional co-operation. Both sides agreed that regional economic co-operation was a global trend. The Pan-PRD region covers the nine southern provinces and the Hong Kong and Macau SARs. Accounting for one-third of both the national economic capacity and total population, the region has very strong economic complementarity and extensive international links.

Mr Tsang noted that the provinces in the south and in the southwest had unique advantages in terms of geographical vicinity and manpower in developing the ASEAN market. Economic co-operation in the Pan-PRD region can enhance the overall competitiveness and in turn speed up the development of the whole region. The HKSAR Government was committed to taking an active part in the Pan-PRD regional co-operation, he added.

Lastly, it was decided that the Seventh Plenary Meeting of the Joint Conference would be held in early August.

Ends/Friday, May 21, 2004


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