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CS attended the 12th Working Meeting of Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou (with photos)

     The 12th Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference was held in Guangzhou today (January 21). The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Henry Tang, and the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Wan Qingliang, leading the respective delegations, had a thorough discussion on how to implement the initiatives relevant to the co-operation among Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao in the "Framework for Development and Reform Planning for Pearl River Delta Region" (Framework), which was officially announced by the National Development and Reform Commission earlier this month, and has reached a number of consensus. Both sides have exchanged views on a number of major co-operation initiatives as well.

     The Chief Secretary for Administration indicated that while the global economy is facing a challenging and critical time, launching of the Framework has important impact as it provides a clear policy to develop Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao into the most energetic economic region. There is a need to implement the Framework in a more vigorous and speedy way.

Framework for Development and Reform Planning for Pearl River Delta Region

     The Framework emphasises the support to the expansion of co-operation areas that can be decided among Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macao under the guidance of the relevant central authorities. The Government attaches great importance to the implementation of the Framework and, under the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", will engage in active discussion with Guangdong on the follow-up actions in all-round aspects with a view to determining the most beneficial long-term development direction and targets for the greater Pearl River Delta region.

     Both sides agreed to focus on the co-operation of four priority areas, including financial industry, service industry, infrastructural facilities and town planning, as well as innovation and technology with an aim to pushing forward the implementation and follow up actions of the Framework effectively and speedily. At the same time, we propose to incorporate the green and quality living area of the Greater Pearl River Delta region into the national 12th Five-year Plan.

     The two governments have agreed to set up a "Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-ordinating Committee on Implementation of the Framework for Pearl River Delta Development and Reform Planning", as the major engine for taking forward specific actions for implementing the Framework. The co-ordinating committee will include senior representatives from relevant policy bureaux and departments, and is responsible for co-ordinating the relevant expert groups and departments in various areas, setting out the strategy and targets for implementation of the Framework, as well as reviewing work progress regularly.

     The Hong Kong and Guangdong governments will, jointly with the Macao Special Administrative Region Government, discuss the establishment of a regional collaboration mechanism and the co-operation issues, with a view to enabling timely exchanges of views and to working on joint planning for the three places.

     At the same time, both Hong Kong and Guangdong have agreed to make use of the opportunities presented by the Framework to enhance the co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong at different levels, to meet with each other more frequently, to encourage the interaction and collaboration between the Government and different sectors in Hong Kong with the nine municipalities in the Pearl River Delta region, and to enhance community participation in research on regional co-operation and planning.

Financial industry

     The two sides agreed to set up a new Expert Group responsible for promoting financial co-operation under the framework of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference. The Expert Group will select and put forward some co-operation initiatives soon, with a view to breaking through the obstacles in the existing system and mechanism for free flow of the capital resources in the long run, in order to provide a strong support to the financial development of the Pearl River Delta region.

Service industry

     Both sides will collaborate in full implementation of CEPA and liberalisation measures implemented in Guangdong on a pilot basis. The Guangdong government has established a dedicated office to co-ordinate relevant work. The promulgation of Mainland rules and regulations, as well as implementation details, for Guangdong pilot measures is in progress. For example, the measure allowing Hong Kong travel enterprises to organise group tours to Hong Kong for qualified non-Guangdong residents in Shenzhen has been implemented on December 15, 2008. To enable the trade to enjoy the benefits of Guangdong pilot measures early, the Guangdong side will expedite work on the amendment of implementing rules and regulations for the remaining measures, and promulgate the implementation details as well as provide facilitation measures as early as possible.

Restructuring and upgrading of processing trade and the support measures to small and medium-sized enterprise

     The central government has launched specific policies, such as increasing the export tax rebate rates four times, suspending the policy on actual payment of standing book deposit for processing trade enterprises, making adjustments to the Catalogue of Restricted Products and the Catalogue of Published Products for Processing Trade, etc. Guangdong has also rolled out a series of policies, including the reduction in administrative fees, the reduction of the burden of social insurance for enterprises with hardship, support to enterprises' restructuring and upgrading, assistance to enterprises in exploring domestic sales in the Mainland, and clarification of the calculation of overtime payments and effective retrospective period in respect of the labour system. The HKSAR Government has conveyed the wish of early implementation of these measures for the benefits of Hong Kong-invested enterprises to Guangdong.

Major Infrastructure and Town Planning

     Both sides agreed that the formation of a closely integrated transport system and a highly efficient traffic network and related facilities among Hong Kong, Macao and the Pearl River Delta can bolster economic ties among the townships and the free flow of key economic elements, lower transaction costs, as well as enhance the quality of service and the level of management, rendering the Greater Pearl River Delta region the most convenient and efficient and the safest hub for passenger traffic and logistics in the Asia Pacific region. At the meeting, both sides reported the progress of various major cross-boundary infrastructure projects and will pull all efforts to expedite these projects, including the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, Hong Kong-Shenzhen Airport Rail Link and the boundary control point at Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai.

     On supporting software and co-ordinating regional transport planning, both sides will consolidate the regional traffic and transport network according to the people-based principle to ensure the free flow of people and goods. Both sides will also work closely with the authorities in the Pearl River Delta region to ensure the clear demarcation of the work on the development of ports and airports and their reasonable distribution so as to complement each other's strength and thrive together, thus maintaining Hong Kong's status as a major port and civil aviation hub in Asia.

     The Framework also mentions that "joint planning and implementation of the key action plan for the Bay Area covering the Pearl River mouth will be supported". The Bay Area is the window for the whole region. The HKSAR Government will discuss with the Guangdong and Macao governments on the future development strategy of the Bay Area as soon as possible, and take forward cross-boundary regional planning co-operation, on the basis of the findings of "The Planning Study on the Co-ordinated Development of the Greater Pearl River Delta Townships" which will be soon available.

Innovation and Technology

     The HKSAR Government will enhance the "Guangdong/Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme", with a view to introducing more flexibility to allow the inclusion of more R&D projects that would benefit the technology development of both Guangdong and Hong Kong. At the same time, we plan to organise focus visits to various Pearl River Delta cities for representatives of our industries and R&D institutions, with a view to exploring further collaboration opportunities with Guangdong in specific technology areas such as information and communication technology (including RFID), advanced materials, biotechnology and renewable energy. The HKSAR Government will also strengthen the sharing of information and R&D resources with Guangdong, and continue with the development of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation Circle.

     In the long run, the HKSAR Government will encourage and strengthen the systemic collaboration between the academic, industrial, and research sectors of the two places.  By utilising Hong Kong's advantages in the protection of intellectual property and the global network, Hong Kong could be developed into a technology service centre for the industries of the Pearl River Delta to develop and commercialise their innovation and technological developments for the global market.

     The Framework underlines the need to develop hi-tech industries and enhance the innovative capacity of the region. Drawing on the respective competitive advantages of Hong Kong and Guangdong, both sides would collaborate closely to transform the Pearl River Delta region into a hi-tech, low-pollution and low-carbon "green and quality living area". As an international financial centre, Hong Kong can play a facilitating role in introducing advanced technologies, transferring management expertise and systems and facilitating advanced environmental research. By leveraging on the production base in the Greater Pearl River Delta region, environmental protection will be integrated with the economic development and industrial restructuring of the two places. Possible areas of collaboration include facilitating the development of a regional, large scale hi-tech circular economy which provides for green business opportunities, promoting the adoption of cleaner production and energy efficiency technologies in industries, strengthening co-operation between enterprises in Hong Kong and Guangdong in supporting efficient utilisation of resources and development of environmental protection industries, thereby upgrading the quality of enterprises in the region, and jointly developing cleaner energy and renewable energy, and enhancing energy structure. Both sides will seek to tackle regional environmental problems in a holistic manner, and to support the regional economic development needs.

     The HKSAR Government will continue discussions with the Guangdong authorities to draw up the post-2010 arrangements for improving regional air quality, with a view to establishing forward-looking and practicable emission reduction targets with due recognition of the differences between the two places and the expectations of the community. Both sides also agree to strive to include the notion of transforming the Pearl River Delta region into a green and quality living area in the national 12th Five-year Plan.

     To tie-in with the Framework in supporting the establishment of higher education institutions in the Pearl River Delta by prestigious higher education institutions in Hong Kong and Macao and renowned overseas universities, the HKSAR Government will also work closely with the Shenzhen authorities to establish universities and research institutions of international and advanced standard in the Lok Ma Chau Loop. This will help foster even more talents for the long-term development of the Greater Pearl River Delta.

Other co-operation areas

     Both sides will continue promoting co-operation in other items, including co-operation in major cross-boundary infrastructural projects and boundary control points, facilitation of people and cargo flow, food safety, water supply, informatisation, social welfare, culture, sports, education, flow of talents, joint promotion of the co-operation in the Pan-Pearl River Delta region, emergency management and strategic research.

     The Chief Secretary for Administration considered the discussion and exchanges at the Working Meeting useful and fruitful. Looking ahead, Hong Kong and Guangdong will begin discussion on various co-operation areas and their implementation in accordance with the Framework. If Hong Kong and Guangdong can re-affirm the division of work and the implementation under the Framework, greater and wider synergies can be generated resulting in win-win situations.

     The delegation of the HKSAR Government includes the Chief Secretary for Administration; the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam; the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau; the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, and the representatives of the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the Transport and Housing Bureau and the Development Bureau.

Ends/Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Issued at HKT 22:25


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