CS attends Sixth Working Meeting of HK/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference (with photos)

   The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Rafael Hui, and the Executive Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Tang Bingquan, co-chaired the Sixth Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou this morning (February 16). 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 infrastructural projects, facilitation of cross-boundary flow of people and cargo, and co-operation in technology, trade, economic activities and environmental protection, prevention of infectious diseases and ensuring food safety.

     Key officials attending the meeting were the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam;the Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour (Economic Development), Ms Sandra Lee and the Permanent Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Mr Joshua Law.

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

Co-operation in construction of major infrastructural projects

     The two sides had achieved a breakthrough in the planning of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. Following the Executive Council's approval of further plans for the express rail link's Hong Kong section and the Northern Link as a combined project, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government has invited the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation to commence the relevant works. The construction of the Hong Kong section is expected to be completed in 2013 at the earliest. Construction of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen section (the section connecting Shibi, Guangzhou and Longhua, Shenzhen) was started in late 2005. Upon completion of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, the travel time between Hong Kong and Guangzhou by through-train will be shortened from the present 100 minutes to 60 minutes. It will benefit the integration and development of Guangdong and Hong Kong.

     The Shenzhen and Hong Kong sections of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor were connected this January. The two sides will continue with the remaining works to ensure that the project is completed on schedule by the end of the year. Hong Kong is also working with Shenzhen Municipality and Guangdong Province on the implementation of co-location arrangements at the control points and the regulation of cross-boundary traffic following the opening of the corridor.

     Both sides will continue with the preparatory work for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.

Facilitating cross-boundary flow of people and cargo

     An airline check-in service for travellers making their way to Hong Kong International Airport at Shekou ferry terminal was launched in November last year. As at January 31, over 25,000 people had made use of the airline check-in service.  The percentage of patronage was about 33%. As the service is well received by travellers, the two sides agreed to extend the service in phases to cover more control points.

     The preparatory work on the freight through train service linking Changping in Dongguang and Hung Hom has been progressing well. The two sides will continue to work on the related procedures and arrangements to facilitate early commencement of the train service.

Economic and trade co-operation

    Invest Hong Kong assisted 38 mainland enterprises to set up or expand their business in Hong Kong last year. Among them, 16 were enterprises from Guangdong Province. To further encourage Guangdong enterprises to invest and set up business in Hong Kong, the Guangdong Greater Pearl River Delta (GPRD) Investment and Trade Promotion Sub-group, teamed up with the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Guangdong and the Hong Kong GPRD Business Council Joint Investment and Trade Promotion Sub-group to hold the first "Hong Kong Investment Promotion Seminar" in Guangzhou last year with encouraging results. Over 250 representatives from private enterprises in Guangzhou, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Qingyuan and Huizhou attended the seminar. Of the 79 enterprises interviewed, about two-thirds indicated that they are planning to join delegations to visit Hong Kong, while about one-fifth indicated that they may set up business in Hong Kong in the coming year. The two sides are planning to organise business seminars in other cities in Guangdong Province and to arrange delegations for interested enterprises to visit Hong Kong.

     In October 2005, the Chief Executive and the Financial Secretary, jointly with the Governor of Guangdong Province, led delegations to Vancouver and San Francisco respectively to promote the business and investment environment of the Greater Pearl River Delta and the Pan-Pearl River Delta. Each seminar was participated by over 1,000 local business representatives. The two sides will work together to plan on a large-scale joint investment promotion to be held this year.

     The governments of both sides will organise promotional activities to strengthen exchanges between the professional sectors and service industry of the two places this year. They will also step up promotion of concessionary measures set out under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA).

Co-operation in technology

     The "2005 Guangdong/Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme" was welcomed by research institutions and enterprises in Guangdong and Hong Kong. Under the scheme, the two places have supported 126 projects with total funding of $360 million. The scheme helped consolidate research capabilities in the two places, promote the development of intellectual property rights, and promote the commercialisation of research and development results. The Innovation and Technology Commission and the Department of Science and Technology of Guangdong Province will continue to implement the funding scheme this year. Details of the scheme, including the technology areas to be supported and the amount of funding, will be announced in mid-2006.

Taking forward Pan-Pearl River Delta regional co-operation

     The Guangdong Province is in full support of the Pan-Pearl River Delta Regional Co-operation Financial Services Forum to be held in Hong Kong at the end of next month (March). The two sides agreed to encourage provinces in the region to use Hong Kong as a bridge connecting the Pan-Pearl River Delta Region to the world, to make good use of Hong Kong's advantages as an international financial hub, and to encourage mainland enterprises to raise capital and to enter the international market.

     Both sides also agreed to give full support to Yunnan Province in organising the third Pan-Pearl River Delta Regional Co-operation and Development Forum and Economic and Trade Fair.

Prevention of infectious diseases and measures to ensure food safety

     Given their geographical proximity, Guangdong Province and Hong Kong are closely linked in the prevention of infectious diseases and the application of measures to ensure food safety. The two sides agreed to strengthen co-operation in these areas.

     On the prevention of infectious diseases, the Health Department of Guangdong Province and Hong Kong's Department of Health maintain a regular exchange of information on the 15th of each month regarding diseases requiring statutory notification in both places and those raising mutual concern (including human cases of avian influenza). Apart from this, the health authorities of both places have established a point-to-point communication mechanism. In the case of major public health incidents (including any human cases of avian influenza), the health authorities of the two places will notify their counterparts as soon as possible. On the surveillance of animal cases of avian influenza, the Guangdong Province will take action corresponding to the disease prevention measures taken in Hong Kong, including combating illegal export of live poultry and strengthening surveillance and inspection in markets.
         Guangdong and Hong Kong have agreed to set up a communication mechanism to exchange information on incidents relating to food safety. Each side will designate a liaison officer and high-level meetings will be convened at least once or twice a year. The two sides have started to discuss textual details of the agreement concerned with a view to reaching an agreement as soon as possible.

Co-operation in environmental protection

     The authorities have been releasing to the public the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Index since November 30, 2005. The two sides will continue with their efforts in regional air quality monitoring and information reporting. The Emission Trading Pilot Scheme for Thermal Power Plants in the Pearl River Delta Region being jointly developed by the two sides is expected to be finalised this year. The two sides intend to present details of the scheme to the power plants in Hong Kong and Guangdong, so that prospective participants can identify their trading partners and draw up emission trading agreements.

     Both sides were determined to implement various mitigation measures, as well as to start technical exchanges on motor vehicle emission standards, continuous emissions monitoring of stationary pollution sources, and desulphurisation and de-NOX systems for power plants, with a view to achieving emissions reduction targets by 2010.

Other areas of co-operation

    The two sides also discussed other areas of co-operation, including civil service exchange, the "Planning Study on Coordinated Development of the Greater PRD Township", and co-operation in intellectual property protection, basic education and cultural activities.

Ends/Thursday, February 16, 2006
Issued at HKT 14:46