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HKSAR Government welcomes supportive measures from Central Government on social and economic developments

     The HKSAR Government welcomes and is grateful for the Central Government's package of measures announced by the Vice-Premier of the State Council, Mr Li Keqiang, to support social and economic development in Hong Kong at the Forum on the National 12th Five-Year Plan and Economic, Trade and Financial Co-operation and Development Between the Mainland and Hong Kong today (August 17). Relevant ministers also expounded on the measures at the Forum.
     "The measures announced by the Central Government cover a wide range of areas which include finance, the economy and trade, transport, tourism, supply of food and energy, health-care services and education, creating a win-win environment by bringing benefits to the whole community of Hong Kong as well as boosting the country's further development. The collaboration between the Mainland and Hong Kong is also strengthened," the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, said.


     Twelve measures are related to the financial area, reflecting the support of the Central Government to strengthen Hong Kong's position as an international financial centre. Seven of the measures are beneficial to the development of offshore Renminbi business, which include revising measures for the management of foreign investment projects to support and encourage Hong Kong enterprises to use Renminbi for direct investments in the Mainland, and allowing investments in the Mainland equity market by means of the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (RQFII) scheme.

     On the development of the offshore Renminbi bond market, the Central Government said explicitly that the issuance of Renminbi-denominated bonds in Hong Kong would be a long-term institutional arrangement and that the scale of issuance will be gradually expanded. In addition to expanding the number of domestic enterprises issuing Renminbi-denominated bonds in Hong Kong and the scale of the bond issuance by these enterprises, the Central Government will also allow non-finance-related domestic enterprises to issue Renminbi-denominated bonds in Hong Kong. These measures will be a huge boost to the development of the offshore Renminbi capital market and innovation in Renminbi financial products.

     On the equity market, the Central Government will roll out an ETF (Exchange-Traded Fund) consisting of Hong Kong stocks in the Mainland and continue to support the listing of Mainland companies in Hong Kong. These measures are important to the Hong Kong equity market, which has been serving as the key capital-raising platform for Mainland companies and the market for Mainland equity investors as indirect participants.

     On insurance, the Central Government explicitly supported Hong Kong's insurance companies to enter the market by setting up offices or taking up stakes, which will bring more business opportunities to the industry.

     In a nutshell, the measures will benefit the whole financial market and institutional development in Hong Kong. They will also help the nation's plan to build a multi-layer financial market in the 12th Five-Year Plan period and its goal to expand the cross-boundary use of Renminbi.

Economy and trade

     The Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) gives preferential treatment to Hong Kong enterprises to enter the Mainland markets, bringing immense opportunities to Hong Kong businesses. The results are remarkable.

     Currently, more than 1,600 products and 40 services sectors are covered by CEPA. The Central Government announced that the markets for Hong Kong's trade in services will be further opened up and, for the first time, set a mid-term target for CEPA, i.e. to basically achieve a full liberalisation of trade in services for Hong Kong by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan period.

     These measures will certainly bring the development of CEPA to a new level. The setting of an ambitious target for the evolvement of CEPA will enable both the traditional and new services players in Hong Kong to capitalise on the nation's strategic goal of enhancing the services industry.

     In the short term, the Vice-Premier indicated that a CEPA Supplement would be signed by the two sides within this year to intensify the liberalisation of the trade in services. The HKSAR Government is working with relevant Mainland departments toward this goal.

     On regional economic co-operation, as Hong Kong's major trading partners are actively seeking negotiations on bilateral and multi-lateral free-trade agreements, it is important that Hong Kong does not lag behind. The announcement by the Central Government to support Hong Kong's active participation in multi-lateral and regional economic co-operation is particularly important for enhancing our status as an international trading, shipping and financial centre. As a focus in the short term, the Central Government supports Hong Kong to participate in the regional co-operation in East Asia, which goes nicely with the current focus on Asia by the global markets.


     The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Airport Rail Link are all strategically important to the integration of Hong Kong with the regional rail and road networks. The HKSAR Government is grateful for the support of the Central Government for these projects and will work at full steam to take forward the projects.
     The HKSAR Government is also grateful to the Central Government for supporting Hong Kong as an international shipping centre, including the support for Hong Kong to increase its air services capacity in the region. It is important to the development of Hong Kong as an international and regional aviation hub, and to meet the long-term needs for air services in the region.

     With our rich experience in railway development and operation, Hong Kong is well positioned to contribute to the modernisation of railways in the nation. The Central Government supports the deepening of co-operation between the MTR Corporation and its counterparts in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen in railway construction and operation, and its expansion to other cities like Hangzhou. This kind of co-operative effort would provide immense opportunities to the Hong Kong railway sector, strengthening the exchanges between the two places and improving both the management and service of railway transportation in both Hong Kong and the Mainland.


     The Central Government supports the co-operation of the tourism regulatory bodies of the HKSAR Government with the Mainland in strengthening measures to regulate Mainland tour groups visiting Hong Kong. These measures would improve the quality of tourism services in both the Mainland and Hong Kong, and also protect the rights of tourists. It is also crucial to the healthy development of the market involving Mainland tour groups visiting Hong Kong.  

     The Central Government fully understands the development needs and direction of our tourism industry and will introduce a series of targeted measures, including encouraging Hong Kong travel agents to operate in the Mainland, and supporting the development of cruise vessels homeporting in Hong Kong. The HKSAR Government will assist the industry to seize the opportunity to expand business.

Livelihood and social issues

     Apart from those concerning finance, economy and trade, transport and tourism, many of the measures announced by the Central Government are closely related to our daily lives, including food and energy supply, health care and education. Taking food supply as an example, the Mainland is Hong Kong's major food supplier. Over 90 per cent of our fresh food, for instance, live pigs, cattle, fish, poultry and vegetables, are imported from the Mainland. The Central Government announced safeguards for supplies to Hong Kong, including stable supply of high-quality agricultural products such as grain, meat, vegetables and fruits, which would help relieve the pressure of rising food prices.

     On energy supply, the Central Government announced that the construction work of the Hong Kong branch line of the Second Pipeline of the West-East Gas Transmission Project will be accelerated, so that the supply of natural gas to Hong Kong will be advanced to the second half of next year. Having a stable and long-term supply of natural gas from the Mainland for electricity generation would be beneficial to the sustainable development of Hong Kong's economy. Using natural gas as the major fuel source will not only reverse the coal-fired electricity generation of the past, but also have a great impact in improving our air quality.  

     On health care, Hong Kong has always maintained a high service standard. The Hong Kong health-care sector has been very enthusiastic in the development of national medical and health-care services, and has been providing quality services to those in need in the Mainland via CEPA. The Central Government announced that the Hong Kong health-care sector is allowed to set up hospitals, as a sole proprietor, in more provinces and cities in the Mainland. This can further enhance the exchanges between the Hong Kong and Mainland health-care sectors and provide more choices for Mainland patients as well as those Hong Kong citizens who work and live in the Mainland.

     On education, the Central Government announced that more Mainland universities will waive the entrance examinations for Hong Kong students. The New Academic Structure for Senior Secondary Education and the qualification of Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination are nationally accepted. This will not only provide an alternate route for Hong Kong students and relieve their pressure in getting entry into universities, but also help them in their career development in the Mainland or Hong Kong in the future.

Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation

     The Framework Agreement on Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation was signed last year. Much achievement has been made through the active implementation of the agreement. With the announcement of the strong support from the Central Government, the development of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Co-operation Zone can be further promoted while co-operation between the two places in environmental protection, clean development and elderly care services can also be deepened.


     The measures announced by the Central Government demonstrate the nation's support and care toward Hong Kong, and highlight the mutually beneficial relationship between Hong Kong and the Mainland under the National 12th Five-Year Plan. With the support of the Central Government, the HKSAR Government looks forward to continuing to contribute to the modernisation development of the nation. Having the Mainland as our hinterland and being an Asian world city, we will continue to make the best use of our unique advantages with a view to creating a better future for both Hong Kong and the Mainland.

Ends/Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Issued at HKT 19:54


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