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Fourteenth Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held in Hong Kong (with photos)

     The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Huang Huahua, leading the delegations of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and Guangdong Province respectively, co-chaired the 14th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Hong Kong today (August 23).

     The Chief Executive said, "At the 14th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference, the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Huang Huahua and I reviewed the progress of Hong Kong-Guangdong co-operation over the past year and set the directions for co-operation in the coming year. Both sides considered the progress of implementation of the 2011 Work Plan satisfactory. Apart from promoting economic development, we have also produced outcomes which are beneficial to and can be felt by people of both sides.  

     "Last week, the Central Government announced a series of measures to support the economic and social development of Hong Kong. These measures include further opening of the Mainland market to the Hong Kong services industry under the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), further development of Renminbi (RMB) business, deepening of Hong Kong and Guangdong co-operation, etc. These measures will add impetus to regional development. Moving on to the next stage, we shall strengthen the ties between the two places to capitalise on the opportunities brought about by these measures and to implement the various projects under the Framework Agreement on Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation (Framework Agreement) in order to achieve the targets under the National 12th Five-Year Plan and the Framework Agreement and to strengthen the overall competitiveness of the Pearl River Delta region."

     In respect of individual areas of co-operation, the progress made and directions for further co-operation are set out below.

Development of financial services

     For both Hong Kong and Guangdong, financial services is an important economic sector. It is also a key area of co-operation between the two places. In the past year, there were encouraging developments in cross-border RMB business including expansion of the geographical coverage of the RMB trade settlement scheme in June last year to cover the whole of Guangdong Province. In the first half of 2011, RMB trade settlement conducted through Hong Kong banks reached RMB804 billion, of which nearly 30 per cent was trade settlement between Guangdong and Hong Kong.  

     Other financial services involving the two places have also recorded healthy growth. At the moment, four banks with Hong Kong capital have set up a total of 12 sub-branches in Guangdong. In addition, as of June 2011, over 125 Guangdong enterprises have been listed in Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong subsidiaries of six securities companies, four fund management companies and three futures companies from Guangdong have obtained licenses to carry on regulated activities in Hong Kong.

     In the coming year, in accordance with the National 12th Five-Year Plan and the principles of the Framework Agreement, Hong Kong and Guangdong will fully utilise Hong Kong's position as an international financial centre and formulate policies and measures to establish a financial co-operation zone led by Hong Kong's financial system and supported by financial resources and services of the Pearl River Delta region. Both sides will continue to promote RMB business; enhance co-operation in various financial services such as credit, securities, insurance, futures, bonds and asset management; and support further exchanges and co-operation between training organisations and talents in the financial sector.

Commerce and trade co-operation

     On commerce and trade, Hong Kong and Guangdong have been actively pushing forward the implementation of CEPA over the past year, and achieved remarkable results. Since the implementation of Supplement VII to CEPA in January this year, Guangdong has promulgated the implementation details for all relevant pilot measures. To familiarise the industries with CEPA measures, a number of seminars have been organised by the two sides to introduce implementation details in the testing and certification, medical and construction services sectors. These efforts are beginning to yield results, as evidenced by an increasing number of clinics set up by Hong Kong doctors and dentists in Guangdong.

     On upgrading and transformation of the processing trade, Guangdong Province has reached agreements with relevant Central Government ministries, including the Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs, to implement various measures to help the processing trade in Guangdong to upgrade and transform its operations. Hong Kong will work closely with Guangdong Province to develop relevant implementation details as soon as possible.

Travel facilitation

     To facilitate travel between the two places, relevant organisations from Guangdong and Hong Kong signed a Heads of Agreement today regarding the issuance of a Lingnan Tong and Octopus two-in-one card, to be launched in 2012. It is an initiative that is beneficial to the general public as card holders can use it to pay for public transport and retail purchases in Guangzhou, Foshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, Shanwei, Huizhou and Hong Kong.

     On the other hand, the first phase of the trial scheme to introduce ad hoc quotas for cross-boundary private cars will be launched in March 2012. Owners of Hong Kong private cars with five seats or less may apply for ad hoc quotas under the scheme to drive their private cars into Guangdong Province. This will further facilitate travel between the two places. The relevant arrangements and implementation details will be announced before the end of this year.

Co-operation on environmental protection

     On environmental protection co-operation, improvement of air quality is a key area in which the public has a particular interest. Hong Kong and Guangdong have been actively implementing the emissions-reduction measures under the Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Management Plan (2002-10). On the basis of the final assessment now being conducted on the Management Plan, the two sides will seek to complete by the end of this year the study on the future arrangements for emissions reduction in the Pearl River Delta region and promulgate the findings.

     Hong Kong and Guangdong share views on the importance of regional co-operation to combat climate change. With a view to controlling greenhouse gas emissions and actively promoting the development of a low-carbon economy in the region, both sides agree to set up the Hong Kong/Guangdong Liaison Group on Combating Climate Change under the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference. The Liaison Group, led jointly by the Environment Bureau of Hong Kong and the Development and Reform Commission of Guangdong Province, will co-ordinate measures and activities in combating climate change, including the promotion of scientific research and technology development in the two places.

Medical services co-operation

     On medical services co-operation, Hong Kong and Guangdong co-operation continues to deepen. As of July 2011, Hong Kong service providers have set up a total of 10 clinics and out-patient clinics in Guangdong. Meanwhile, the first hospital to be jointly established by the two sides will commence operation in 2012. This hospital was developed by the Shenzhen authorities, while the University of Hong Kong assisted in its planning and will participate in its future operation.

     There is good progress in the arrangement for transfer of medical records of Hong Kong citizens from Guangdong to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Hospital Authority and the Shenzhen authorities have launched a medical records transfer pilot project in Peking University Shenzhen Hospital and Shenzhen Nanshan People's Hospital since the first quarter of 2011. This project will be gradually extended to four other hospitals.

     We will step up co-operation in medical services with Guangdong Province. We will also continue to strengthen our ties with the Central Government and Guangdong Province to provide training and information to Hong Kong medical practitioners to enable them to have a better understanding of Mainland laws and regulations as well as the requirements and procedures for Hong Kong service providers to set up operations in Guangdong.

Education co-operation

     On education co-operation, significant outcomes have been achieved in various aspects, including higher education co-operation, vocational education co-operation, teacher co-operation and training, the sister school scheme and the pilot scheme on schools and classes for Hong Kong children in Shenzhen.

     Looking forward, Hong Kong and Guangdong will encourage more innovative co-operation between higher education institutions in Hong Kong and educational institutes in Guangdong; continue the promotion of co-operation in vocational education; continue to follow up the implementation of the pilot exercise on schools and classes for Hong Kong children in Shenzhen; continue the implementation of the sister school scheme and explore the deepening of exchanges between sister schools; and continue the improvement of teaching training and establishment of bilateral exchanges.

Cultural exchanges

     Hong Kong and Guangdong have organised many cultural exchange activities over the past year. A series of events have been organised successfully, including the unprecedented joint Cantonese opera performance "A Showcase of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Cantonese Opera Masters" by Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau. The three sides are also working jointly on a roving exhibition entitled "Ceramics of the Maritime Silk Road - Relics from the Pearl River Delta Region", which will be displayed from May 2012 to the end of 2013, and other cultural promotion events.

Key co-operation areas

     On each key co-operation area, significant progress has been made. Nansha is one of the highlights of this year's Hong Kong and Guangdong co-operation. Hong Kong and Guangdong have decided to set up a special task group on co-operation to take forward the development of Nansha under the Framework Agreement, so as to promote the upgrading and transformation of Hong Kong-invested processing trade in Guangdong, to develop a demonstration zone for implementation of CEPA and relevant early and pilot measures, and to advance co-operation in social services.

     On Qianhai, the Shenzhen authority is now striving to provide preferential policies and lower the entry thresholds for Hong Kong service providers to establish operations in Qianhai. The HKSAR Government will continue to complement the efforts of the Shenzhen authorities.

Regional co-operation plan

     The four regional co-operation plans set out in the Framework Agreement have seen smooth progress. Preparatory work on the "Tourism" co-operation plan has started. "The Study on the Action Plan for Bay Area of the Pearl River Estuary" has entered its final phases. It is expected that the study results can be announced by the end of this year or early next year. The three sides will strive to complete by early next year the Plan on Infrastructure Construction to strengthen the linkage of existing and planned infrastructure facilities in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau. As for the Regional Co-operation Plan on Building a Quality Living Area, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau will commence public consultation shortly to collect views from the public on the co-operation directions proposed in the study. The views collected will be taken into account in the further studies with a view to releasing the findings of the Plan in early 2012. Looking ahead, the three sides will endeavour to implement the Regional Co-operation plans to enhance co-operation in respect of the living environment, transport infrastructure and tourism.

Other areas

     Apart from the above-mentioned areas, Hong Kong and Guangdong have also made steady progress in co-operation in various other areas such as cross-boundary infrastructure, creative industries, innovation and technology, testing and certification, tourism, building of cross-boundary control points and cross-boundary clearance, intellectual property, legal matters, food and agricultural products safety and public security.

Agreement signing ceremony for Hong Kong/Guangdong
co-operation projects

     Hong Kong and Guangdong signed five letters of intent and co-operation agreements after the meeting:

* Letter of Intent between Hong Kong and Guangzhou on Co-operation in Pushing Forward the Development of Nansha New Area

* Co-operation Agreement between Hong Kong and Guangdong on Combating Climate Change

* Co-operation Arrangement between Hong Kong and Guangdong on Establishment of a Contingency Notification Mechanism on Critical Disruption of the Guangdong-Hong Kong Cross-Boundary Telecommunications Networks

* Agreement on Guangdong/Hong Kong Co-operation on Intellectual Property (2011-12)

* Heads of Agreement between GDPASS Payment Network Company Limited and Octopus Cards Limited on Issuance of Two-in-One Card

The 14th Plenary

     The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Huang Huahua, co-chaired the 14th Plenary. Principal officials of the HKSAR Government that attended the meeting included the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Henry Tang; the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam; the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow; the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung; the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Professor K C Chan; the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam; the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Edward Yau; the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng; the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So; the Director of the Chief Executive's Office, Mr Raymond Tam; the Head of Central Policy Unit, Professor Lau Siu-kai; and other relevant officials. At the meeting, Mr Tang and the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Ms Zhao Yufang, together with other officials of both sides, reported to the meeting the co-operation progress and achievements made since the 13th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference.

     The Deputy Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, Mr Zhou Bo, and the Deputy Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, Mr Wang Zhimin, also attended the meeting as special guests.

     The Greater Pearl River Delta Business Council submitted a report to the plenary on progress of the Council's work over the past year and its work plan for the year ahead.

Ends/Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Issued at HKT 18:28


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