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

     The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Mr C Y Leung, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Zhu Xiaodan, leading the delegations of the HKSAR and Guangdong Province respectively, co-chaired the 17th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou today (November 6).

     The Chief Executive said, "At the 17th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference, the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Zhu Xiaodan, and I reviewed the progress of Hong Kong-Guangdong co-operation over the past year and set the directions for future co-operation.  Both sides considered that the implementation of the co-operation items under the 2014 Work Plan has made good progress."

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

Early basic achievement of liberalisation of trade in services between Hong Kong and Guangdong

     At the 16th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held in September last year, Hong Kong and Guangdong agreed using "to jointly promote 'early basic achievement of liberalisation of trade in services' in 2014" as the key co-operation area this year.  Under the strong support of the Central Government, Hong Kong and Guangdong will, through the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), achieve early basic liberalisation of trade in services, remove Hong Kong service industry entry barriers to the Guangdong market, and serve as pilot for next year's realisation of liberalisation of trade in services between Hong Kong and the Mainland.

     Looking ahead to the coming year, the Governments of the two places will strive to implement the various measures for liberalisation of trade in services between Hong Kong and Guangdong under CEPA; jointly promote utilisation of these measures by the trade of the two places so as to enable them to grasp the business opportunities, broaden and deepen the co-operation of trade in services between Hong Kong and Guangdong, thereby enhance the competitiveness of the service industry of the two places.  

Financial Development

     Financial co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong has been growing continuously over the past year.  For the first nine months of 2014, Renminbi (RMB) trade settlement transactions handled by banks in Hong Kong amounted to over RMB4.5 trillion, representing a year-on-year growth of over 70 per cent, of which around 20 per cent were for trade settlement between Guangdong and Hong Kong.

     Other financial services involving the two places have also recorded a healthy growth. Banks with Hong Kong capital continue to expand their business in Guangdong Province through setting up cross-location sub-branches.  As at September 2014, banks with Hong Kong capital have set up a total of 61 cross-location sub-branches in Foshan, Zhongshan, Huizhou, etc.  In addition, as at September 2014, the Hong Kong subsidiaries of seven securities companies, nine fund management companies and two futures companies from Guangdong have obtained licences to carry out regulated activities in Hong Kong.

     Moreover, among all other provinces in the Mainland, Guangdong Province currently has the largest number of Hong Kong-listed companies and the number is growing. As at September 2014, there were more than 170 Guangdong enterprises listed in Hong Kong, representing over 20 per cent of Mainland enterprises listed in Hong Kong. The capital raised by these enterprises in Hong Kong exceeds a total of $460 billion.

     In the coming year, Hong Kong and Guangdong will continue to promote co-operation in several aspects. First, both sides will explore expanding cross-border RMB lending to other areas of the Guangdong Province (for example, Nansha and Hengqin), and promoting the innovation and development of cross-border RMB businesses. Secondly, both sides will explore enhancement of the two-way opening up of their capital markets, encourage more Guangdong enterprises to list in Hong Kong, issue portfolio investment like RMB bonds and H-share securities, with a view to using the Hong Kong platform for financing activities and expanding their business overseas. Thirdly, both sides will work towards lowering the entrance thresholds applicable to Hong Kong property and casualty insurance companies for entry into the Guangdong market, encourage more Guangdong enterprises to set up captives insurance companies in Hong Kong and also enhance two-way cross-border RMB reinsurance co-operation between Hong Kong and Guangdong. Fourthly, to allow Hong Kong professionals who have obtained Mainland Certified Public Accountant qualification to become partners of accounting firms in Guangdong.

Professional Services

     On professional services, through the efforts of both sides, the Hong Kong-Guangdong legal services industry has successfully achieved new breakthroughs.  The Guangdong Department of Justice has officially implemented two pilot measures of allowing Mainland and Hong Kong law firms to set up partnerships; and permitting Guangdong law firms to second Mainland lawyers to work as consultants on Mainland law in representative offices set up by Hong Kong law firms in Guangdong Province, in Qianhai, Nansha and Hengqin since September 1.

     Next year, Guangdong and Hong Kong will continue stepping up efforts to identify co-operation and exchange opportunities for various professional services, particularly the registration and practice of professionals from the legal, construction and related engineering, and accounting professionals, etc. in Guangdong. These efforts include, for example, the broadening of the scope of practice for Hong Kong professionals, and facilitating the related sectors to promote the extension of mutual recognition of professional qualifications with a view to jointly exploring arrangements to allow Hong Kong professionals to provide professional services directly to Guangdong companies, companies with Hong Kong funding as well as Hong Kong residents in Guangdong. Both Guangdong and Hong Kong aim to identify pilot construction projects in major regional co-operation districts including Nansha, Hengqin and Qianhai, to facilitate the early allowance of Hong Kong accredited construction and engineering related professionals and enterprises to provide services directly in these places, and to expand the scope of services for the construction and engineering designers so that they can provide full range services including engineering design, project management and works supervision.

Tourism Co-operation

     On tourism co-operation, Guangdong and Hong Kong will jointly promote the establishment of Mainland-Hong Kong joint venture travel agents in Guangdong to operate outbound group tours for Mainland residents on a pilot basis to destinations beyond Hong Kong & Macao (excluding Taiwan) and actively solicit the support of the Central Government to suitably extend the applicable areas for the pilot policy.  Besides, in view of the opportunities provided by the commissioning of the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong, next year, the two places will strengthen the co-operation to promote cruise tourism and work together to develop the cruise tourism market with Hong Kong as the home port, with a view to promoting Hong Kong as one of the key cruise terminal home port in the Asia-Pacific region, and positioning Hong Kong as the prominent international cruise tourism centre in the southern China region.  Through the enhancement of co-operation and healthy competition with Guangdong Province and other ports, we hope that the international cruise companies could further develop the Asia-Pacific market and help promote the development of the cruise tourism of China.

Construction of Boundary Control Point and Cross-boundary Infrastructure

     Guangdong and Hong Kong made steady progress last year in respect of the construction of boundary crossing facilities.  For the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB) Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities, its Passenger Terminal Building contract commenced in April 2014 whilst the infrastructure works stage I contracts commenced in July 2014.  In May this year, we have finalised the integrated design of the Passenger Terminal Building and the connecting bridge for Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point (BCP).  Tender assessment for construction of the BCP buildings and associated facilities in Hong Kong side is in progress.  Construction is scheduled to commence early next year with a view to striving for completion in 2018.  Looking forward to the coming year, the two sides will continue to push on with the construction works of the HZMB and the studies on cross-boundary transport policy of HZMB.

Intellectual Property Protection

     In the area of intellectual property protection, Guangdong/Hong Kong Expert Group on Protection of Intellectual Property Rights organised a number of activities with the theme of Intellectual Property (IP) trading over the past year. This effectively strengthened the exchange and co-operation on IP trading between the two jurisdictions. To fight against the smuggling of infringing goods via the express and postal channel, the Customs authorities of both sides conducted parallel joint operations. In two operations organised in October 2013 and March 2014, Hong Kong Customs successfully seized more than 1 300 numbers of infringing goods.

Co-operation on Livelihood Issues

     On co-operation on social services and livelihood, the Social Welfare Department launched, in late June this year, the Pilot Residential Care Services Scheme in Guangdong to provide elderly persons who are on the Central Waiting List for subsidised residential care places an option to choose to live in the elderly homes in Shenzhen and Zhaoqing which are operated by two non-governmental organisations of Hong Kong.  In addition, the HKSAR Government launched, in October last year, the Guangdong Scheme to provide Old Age Allowance (OAA) for eligible Hong Kong elderly persons who choose to reside in Guangdong.  As at the end of September this year, OAA had been approved for around 18 000 elderly persons residing in Guangdong.

     With regard to the supply of Dongjiang water, Guangdong and Hong Kong have reached consensus on the terms of the Dongjiang Water Supply Agreement for 2015 to 2017 to safeguard the water supply of Hong Kong in the coming three years.

Education Co-operation

     Regarding the co-operation in education, Hong Kong and Shenzhen agreed last year to extend the coverage of the original "Scheme of Classes for Hong Kong Children" to include admission of Type II children, providing parents of Hong Kong students in the Mainland with one more option to let their children stay and study in Shenzhen.  In the 2014/15 school year, the number of minban schools joining the "Scheme of Classes for Hong Kong Students" has increased from six (last school year) to nine.  The number of students has increased by around 60 per cent from 1 400 to about 2 200. In addition, to further facilitate the transportation arrangements for cross-boundary students (CBS), Guangdong and Hong Kong have agreed to increase the special quota for cross-boundary school coaches (CBSC).  In the 2014/15 school year, the special quota for CBSC has increased to 170, an increase of about 20 per cent as compared with that of last school year.  In the coming year, relevant parties of the HKSAR and the Mainland authorities will continue to discuss and study the facilitating measures for the next few years for CBS travelling between Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

     In the higher education sector, the Ministry of Education gave approval to the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Shenzhen) in March this year to admit students in the Mainland.  Over 300 undergraduate students were admitted from 17 provinces/municipalities.

Cultural Exchanges and Co-operation

     As for cultural exchanges and co-operation, the bureau/department responsible for culture of Hong Kong and Guangdong have signed the "Guangdong-Hong Kong Cultural Exchange and Co-operation Development Plan 2014-2018" (the Plan)  after the Plenary meeting today.  The Plan covers co-operation in areas including the nurturing and exchanges of artists, collaboration in artistic branding and the development of Internet culture, etc, in the coming five years.

Co-operation in Environmental Protection

     On environmental protection, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao signed a "Co-operation Agreement on Regional Air Pollution Control and Prevention among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau" in September this year, with a view to further fostering tripartite co-operation on air pollution control and prevention. The three sides also announced new arrangements for releasing regional air quality information, with the number of air monitoring stations under the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Pearl River Delta Regional Air Quality Monitoring Network increased from 16 to 23 and the monitoring data of fine suspended particulates (PM2.5) released. In addition, the three sides have commenced a study on fine suspended particulates for the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region in order to provide a robust scientific basis for mapping out strategies for further improvement of the regional air quality.

     Looking ahead, Guangdong and Hong Kong will continue to collaborate on improving the regional environment, with a focus on improving the air quality in the PRD region, thereby achieving the emission reduction targets for 2015.

Key Co-operation Areas

     For regional co-operation, Nansha, Hengqin, and Qianhai saw many policies and measures offering favourable treatment to Hong Kong people and enterprises last year.  Apart from those legal service measures mentioned in previous paragraphs, there are also the delegation of approving and supervising authority to allow Hong Kong medical institutes or service providers to practice short term in Nansha to the Nansha Government; identification of construction pilot projects in Qianhai to allow Hong Kong construction and engineering related professionals and enterprises to provide services directly;  introduction of tax relief of personal income tax for Hong Kong and Macau residents in Hengqin and introduction of 15 per cent enterprise tax for eligible companies in Qianhai and Hengqin.

Other areas

     Apart from the above, Hong Kong and Guangdong have also made steady progress in other areas of co-operation, such as investment promotion, testing and certification, e-commerce, creative industries, medical services, food safety, administration of law and order, traffic and transport, and logistics services.

Co-operation agreement signing ceremony

     The two delegations witnessed the signing of five co-operation agreements and development plans after the meeting:

1. "Guangdong-Hong Kong Co-operation Framework Agreement on Co-development of Modern Research Projects";

2. "Guangdong-Hong Kong Cultural Exchange and Co-operation Development Plan 2014-2018";

3. "The Co-operation Plan for the Sharing of Vessel Traffic Services Data in the Pearl River Estuary Region";

4. "Guangdong-Hong Kong Cooperation Agreement on Cleaner Production"; and

5. "Cooperation Agreement in Meteorological Science and Technology";

The 17th Plenary

     The 17th Plenary was co-chaired by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, and the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Zhu Xiaodan.  Officials of the HKSAR Government attending the meeting included the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam; the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam; the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung; the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing; the Secretary for the Environment, Mr Wong Kam-sing; the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan; the Permanent Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Ms Chang King-yiu; the Under Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Godfrey Leung; the Solicitor General, Mr Frank Poon; the Director of Information Services, Mr Patrick Nip; the Director of Marine, Mr Michael Wong; the Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Shun Chi-ming; and other relevant officials.  At the meeting, Mrs Lam and the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Ms Zhao Yufang, together with other officials of the two sides, reported the progress and achievement made since the 16th Plenary Meeting 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, Ms Qiu Hong, also attended the meeting as special guests.

Ends/Thursday, November 6, 2014
Issued at HKT 23:50


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