Chief Executive Mr Tung Chee Hwa led the HKSAR delegation to attend the Seventh Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou today (August 4). Chief Secretary for Administration and a number of Principal Officials and Permanent Secretaries of relevant bureaux also attended the meeting.
The two governments reached agreement on many fronts.
Promoting Pan-Pearl River Delta (PRD) regional co-operation
Leaders of both sides agreed that Pan-Pearl River Delta (PRD) regional co-operation was an expansion and extension of the Greater PRD regional co-operation. Guangdong and Hong Kong, as the two most developed economies in the region, could together play a very active role in the promotion of Pan-PRD regional co-operation, particularly in view of the strong foundation of close co-operation between the two places for more than two decades. To further promote co-operation on this front, the two sides will set up an expert group under the Hong Kong/Guangdong co-operation framework with a view to leveraging on the synergy generated by Hong Kong/Guangdong co-operation in various aspects and extending the positive impact across the Pan-PRD region.
Economic and trade co-operation
The two sides also agreed to capitalise on the opportunities brought about by the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) to expedite co-operation in the areas of commerce and trade.
Specific co-operation initiatives include the following aspects:
a. streamlining administrative procedures for Hong Kong business services intermediaries to access the Mainland market;
b. initiating discussion on the standard, mode of examination and management scheme for professional services qualifications in Hong Kong and Guangdong, and promoting the mutual recognition of qualifications in the professional services sector;
c. stepping up efforts to open up the logistics market and to actively promote third party and fourth party logisticsˇF
d. fostering co-operation among Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou in the exhibition services industry with a view to strengthening the branding of the industry; and
e. promoting the internationalization of the financial services industry and establishing an effective and efficient regulatory framework.
The two sides will also organize further study tours for the Hong Kong business sector to explore the business potential in the eastern part of the Guangdong Province. Both sides will also continue the joint efforts in promoting the Greater PRD overseas.
Both sides will also exchange experience in handling matters relating to anti-dumping.
Regional transportation network and city planning
Both sides agreed that stepping up co-ordination in regional planning would be a key step in realizing the full economic potential of the Pan-PRD region. In particular, the establishment of a well connected regional transportation network would be of prime importance. On land transport, both sides will continue to push forward the studies on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. On air transportation, Hong Kong will strive to further open up airports in the PRD region for Mainland and Hong Kong airlines, introduce helicopter services between Hong Kong and the PRD region, and streamline sea-air intermodal transit arrangements to facilitate travellers.
In order to further strengthen co-operation and communication in planning and development issues between Hong Kong and Guangdong, the Joint Conference agreed to set up an "Expert Group on Hong Kong/Guangdong Town Planning and Development" through the upgrading of the "Hong Kong/Guangdong Special Panel on Town Planning" and merger with the "Expert Group on Information Exchange".
Both sides will have more regular and extensive exchange of information and views on city planning and regional development in the process of conducting advance study on planning and cross-boundary infrastructure projects. Joint studies will also be conducted on areas affecting both places. The new expert group will put in place an information platform on Hong Kong-Guangdong city planning. It will also launch a study on the "Coordinated Development of the Greater PRD Township", and continue to co-operate and exchange information on planning to facilitate the long term development of the Greater PRD.
Guangdong to support Hong Kong enterprises in the province
At the meeting, the Guangdong side raised the subject of supporting Hong Kong enterprises to grow and prosper in the province. It will encourage such enterprises to set up research and development (R&D) centers and to expand production of new technology products. Apart from providing favourable policies and a business-friendly operating and investment environment, Guangdong also plans to establish a mechanism to follow through requests and to handle complaints from Hong Kong enterprises so as to enable timely and better coordination in resolving difficulties and problems which these enterprises might encounter, and to better protect their legitimate investment interests. These measures will be welcomed by the Hong Kong business sector.
Co-operation in tourism
The Joint Conference agreed that further co-operation at the Pan-PRD level could be built upon the current experience of Guangdong-Hong Kong tourism co-operation. Building on the well established collaboration among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao in promoting tourism, the three sides will study how to step up and extend the joint promotional efforts at the Pan-PRD regional level. The Hong Kong Tourism Board will continue to share with its Mainland counterparts its promotional experience in the international arena. Both parties will also leverage on the abundant natural heritage in the Pan-PRD region in developing and promoting abroad the region-based "single-journey, multiple-stop" tourist routes so as to enhance the overall attractiveness of the region.
In the coming two years, several large-scale tourism projects such as Hong Kong Disneyland, the Cable Car System in Tung Chung and Hong Kong Wetland Park will be completed. Closer co-operation between Hong Kong and the Mainland, in particular Guangdong and the Pan-PRD region, is expected to bring more tourists to both places.
Co-operation at control points
Shenzhen Bay Control Point
Both sides agreed in principle to name the new control point for the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor "Shenzhen Bay Control Point" and to plan on the basis of providing round-the-clock clearance services in future. The co-location arrangement (i.e. clearance services for both sides to be located at the same premises) will be implemented. It is estimated that the new control point will be able to handle a peak hourly traffic of about 150 coaches, 1,640 private cars and 2,600 goods vehicles in one direction.
The two sides also agreed that the early completion of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor would be essential in facilitating the flow of people and cargo between the two places and developing Hong Kong as a logistics hub. They also considered that in order to ensure project quality, construction of the control point facilities should not proceed until the settlement of the reclaimed land has stabilized. As such, the completion date of the control point facilities will be postponed to end July 2006.
Cross-boundary ferry services between Hong Kong Airport and PRD
Both sides agreed to launch the ferry services for transit passengers between Lianhuashan port in Panyu and Hong Kong International Airport. It will be the fourth route following the ones in Fuyong/Shenzhen, Dongguan and Shekou.
Guangdong businesses to operate and list in HK
Both HKSAR Government and Guangdong Government will continue to encourage more Guangdong enterprises to set up businesses in Hong Kong. In 2003, the number of private enterprises in Guangdong Province increased by 29% and has reached over 300,000 in total, with registered capital of RMB450 billion and export growth of 170%, which were among the highest in the Mainland. The Hong Kong side welcomed the setting up of businesses in Hong Kong by these enterprises to make use of Hong Kong as a platform for business expansion and access to the international market. The Hong Kong side also encouraged Guangdong side to continue to improve its policies and legislation to further the development of private enterprises, to facilitate these enterprises in raising capital and to support them in setting up businesses in Hong Kong. In that regard, the Guangdong Provincial Government is planning a major investment study tour for these enterprises later this month when over 150 senior executives from these Guangdong enterprises will explore investment opportunities in Hong Kong. Furthermore, the two sides will conduct a study on the ways to attract private enterprises to set up businesses in Hong Kong, focusing on the key factors which may attract private enterprises in setting up business in Hong Kong and the policies which the two governments might need to further improve the situation.
The HKSAR Government also welcome Guangdong enterprises to list in Hong Kong to raise capital. The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEx) will step up their promotional and training efforts in Guangdong. Among other initiatives, it will organize large-scale listing seminars in the next few months to introduce the regulatory framework and philosophy of Hong Kong's securities market, the listing requirements, as well as Hong Kong's strengths as an international financial centre and a capital-raising centre.
Environmental protection co-operation
The two sides concurred that co-operation in environmental protection is one of the areas that requires sustained efforts by the two sides, such as improvement of air quality and maintenance of the quality of the Dongjiang water supply. On improvements to air quality, an expert group comprising environmental protection experts of the two governments devised a management plan for PRD regional air quality late last year. One of the initiatives was to set up a regional air quality monitoring network. The relevant preparatory work is now underway and the network is expected to come into full operation by the end of this year.
Besides, relevant departments of both governments are actively exploring how to strengthen co-operation in the prevention of air pollution caused by motor vehicles in cities in the PRD region, and propose concrete and effective strategies in achieving this goal, such as the wider adoption of more environmental friendly vehicle emission standards and fuel standards. The HKSAR Government also proposed to explore a pilot scheme on emissions trading amongst electricity plants.
Co-operation in logistics
Both sides agreed that Hong Kong, as an international financial, business, shipping and logistics centre, should further enhance the flow of logistics to and from Guangdong and the other eight provinces in the Pan-PRD region to further facilitate trade in the region. Relevant government departments will shortly commence discussion with a view to reaching early achievements.
Co-operation in technology
The two sides reached consensus on many areas in respect of the co-operation in technology, including joint development of a number of key technologies. Among other areas, both sides will collaborate to jointly develop a pilot scheme on the application of Radio Frequency Identification technology and R&D on automotive parts and related critical technologies. These two research projects will help enhance the technology level and competitiveness of the logistics industry and automobile-related industries in Guangdong and Hong Kong, which will be conducive to the development of these industries. The studies in question will be funded by both Guangdong and Hong Kong. The two sides will also consider establishing a common R&D platform on which the two places can better utilize their research resources and provide better support to the industries in enhancing their technology levels. In addition, the two sides will regularly organize seminars to encourage R&D institutions and industries in Guangdong and Hong Kong to match technology as well as to apply the research results in commercial production.
Civil service exchange
The two sides have reached consensus on the framework of a civil service exchange programme. Pending completion of the documentation, the two sides will sign a co-operation agreement and bring the programme into operation next year. Under the programme, the two governments will second professional grade civil servants to the other side for exchange. The arrangement will foster mutual understanding of the civil servants, which will be conducive to the closer co-operation between the two places. Both sides also agreed to set up an expert group on civil service exchange.
Co-operation in education
On education, the Joint Conference acknowledged the progress made so far, noting in particular that the Memorandum of Understanding on mutual recognition of qualifications signed between the Education and Manpower Bureau and the Ministry of Education last month would facilitate the exchange of people and co-operation between higher education institutions in both places.
On basic education, the two sides will commence discussion on the feasibility and detailed arrangements for school sponsoring bodies in Hong Kong to operate Hong Kong curriculum schools in Shenzhen to serve the needs of Hong Kong children now residing in the Mainland.
Fifteen accomplished language teachers and researchers from Guangdong will arrive in Hong Kong in September to embark on a one-year co-operative teaching and research project in local schools focusing on Chinese language and Putonghua. We will draw on the experiences of these Mainland language teachers to strengthen the professional development of our local teachers and improve the effectiveness of language education.
Results of co-operation since the Sixth Plenary
At the meeting, the Executive Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Tang Bingquan, and the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang reported on the outcomes of Hong Kong/Guangdong co-operation since the sixth plenary. Details are in the Annex.
The Seventh Plenary
The Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Huang Huahua and Chief Executive Mr Tung Chee Hwa co- chaired the seventh plenary today. Chief Secretary for Administration Mr Donald Tsang; Acting Financial Secretary Mr Frederick Ma; Secretary for Civil Service Mr Joseph Wong; Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Mr Stephen Lam; Secretary for Security Mr Ambrose Lee and Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology Mr John Tsang attended the meeting. Also taking part were the Permanent Secretaries of relevant policy bureaux, including the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau, the Education and Manpower Bureau, the Economic Development and Labour Bureau, the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau, the Constitutional Affairs Bureau, and the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau.
The Executive Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, Mr Chen Zuo'er; and the Deputy Director-General of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Mr Zheng Kunsheng, also attended the meeting.
The Chairman of the Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council Dr Victor Fung attended part of the meeting and briefed the Joint Conference on the council's work and reflected the views of the business sector on Hong Kong/Guangdong co-operation. Set up in March this year and appointed by the Chief Executive, the business council comprises 32 members (including the chairman) who come from major chambers of commerce, professional groups and think-tanks in Hong Kong. It advises the Chief Executive on strengthening Hong Kong/Guangdong co-operation in economic and other arenas.
Ends/Wednesday, August 4, 2004