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20th Working Meeting of Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held in Guangzhou (with photos/video)

     The Chief Secretary for Administration (CS), Mrs Carrie Lam, and the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Ms Zhao Yufang, co-chaired the 20th Working Meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou today (March 11). Relevant officials of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and officials of the Guangdong Provincial Government attended the meeting.

     The CS said at the meeting, "At the 17th Plenary of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference held in November last year, the Chief Executive and the Governor of Guangdong Province, leading delegations from the two sides, reached consensus on the key areas for further co-operation and agreed to further implement the liberalisation of trade in services on the basis of the 'early basic achievement of liberalisation of trade in services between Hong Kong and Guangdong' in 2014. The Plenary also agreed to further strengthen co-operation in areas such as financial and professional services, cross-boundary infrastructure, tourism, environmental protection, culture, etc. On the basis of such a consensus, both sides formulated the 2015 Work Plan in various areas covering 90 co-operation items. Both sides will actively push forward the respective major works."

     In respect of individual areas of co-operation, the progress and direction for future co-operation are set out below:

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

     The Agreement between the Mainland and Hong Kong on Achieving Basic Liberalization of Trade in Services in Guangdong (the Agreement) signed under the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) on December 18 last year has laid a solid foundation for early basic liberalisation of trade in services between Guangdong and Hong Kong. The Agreement was the first time that a hybrid approach of pre-establishment national treatment with a negative list was adopted, which would enhance the breadth and depth of the service industry opened in Guangdong by the Mainland for Hong Kong. Both sides agreed that the top priority this year would be to ensure the effective implementation of liberalisation measures in the Agreement so that business and individuals of both Guangdong and Hong Kong could reap the benefits of the Agreement early.

Financial co-operation

     Regarding financial co-operation, Hong Kong has been playing an important role in internationalisation of the Renminbi (RMB). It also provides an effective platform for the capital and enterprises from the Mainland to "go global". The major items of works relating to financial aspects this year cover various areas including RMB services, banking, insurance and securities. Among others, promoting the connection of the capital markets has been a major target of Hong Kong and Guangdong. The two sides agreed to capitalise on the opportunity arising from the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect to further deepen the co-operation of the securities markets in the coming year. Furthermore, apart from continuing to secure support for lowering the entry thresholds of the Hong Kong financial institutions, both sides also agreed to actively seek support to extend the cross-boundary RMB loan policies currently applied in Qianhai to cover Nansha and Hengqin, which would help facilitate the circulation and use of the RMB capital in the Hong Kong offshore market, as well as support the development of the real economy of the key regions in Guangdong.

Youth co-operation

     On youth co-operation, both sides would focus on prompting co-operation in youth exchange and internship, voluntary services and entrepreneurship, etc. For youth exchange and internship, it is expected that more than 19 000 youths will be able to participate in the exchange and internship programmes in the Mainland in 2015-16, among which an additional 1 500 internship places will be provided in Guangdong. Both sides would also continue to enable the Hong Kong youths to offer voluntary services in Guangdong Province, including the implementation of the "Guangdong-Hong Kong Youth Volunteer Service Programme". In addition, the setting up of a $300 million Youth Development Fund as announced in the Chief Executive's Policy Address will also explore various means to enable Hong Kong young people who wish to start their own business ventures to fully utilise the resources and business opportunities in the Mainland (including Guangdong).

Professional services

     Both sides agreed that the professional services in Hong Kong have attained international standards, and can exert a positive impact on the Guangdong enterprises to transform and upgrade their services. This year, Hong Kong and Guangdong will particularly step up efforts to strengthen co-operation in three professional sectors including legal, accounting and construction and engineering and to further help the respective professionals in Hong Kong to achieve qualification recognition and expand the scope of services. The two sides, in particular, will strive to secure support for the policy of allowing Hong Kong and Guangdong law firms to set up partnerships to further extend beyond the pilot areas to the entire Guangdong Province.

Environmental protection

     Environmental protection has been a matter of concern to the general public of both places. Both sides will actively implement the Guangdong-Hong Kong Cooperation Agreement on Cleaner Production to promote cleaner production by the enterprises. Since its inception, the Cleaner Production Partnership Programme as promulgated by both Guangdong and Hong Kong has approved over 2 400 projects, which has assisted the Hong Kong-owned factories in Guangdong to adopt new cleaner production technologies which would help in energy conservation and reduction of emission of air pollutants. The Chief Executive has also announced in the 2015 Policy Address to allocate a further $150 million to extend the Programme for five years till 2020.

Innovation and technology

     On innovation and technology, since the implementation of the Guangdong-Hong Kong Technology Co-operation Funding Scheme, a total of 221 Guangdong-Hong Kong technological co-operation projects have been funded under the Innovation and Technology Fund. This year, the two sides would continue to implement the Scheme to further support the co-operation on advanced technology and technological transfer between the two places. In addition, Guangdong and Hong Kong will strengthen the exchange on "Smart City" and organise the "Smart City Forum" this year to promote collaboration on the development of "Smart City" in the two places.

Co-operation in education

     Co-operation in education has all along been a key item pushed forward by both the Hong Kong and Guangdong sides. Both sides will continue to enhance and deepen co-operation in education, as well as support the exchanges between the primary and secondary students from the two places. It is expected that about 50 000 students and teachers would be granted subsidies provided by the Education Bureau to participate in Guangdong exchange programmes in this school year. A three-year pilot scheme will also be launched in the 2015-16 school year to provide financial and professional support for sister schools in Hong Kong, to further enhance the exchange and collaboration between sister schools from both sides. In addition, the HKSAR Government will also continue to arrange for primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong and Guangdong to pair up to be sister schools. It is expected that 20 more Hong Kong-Guangdong sister schools would be formed by 2015 under the existing scheme. To enable Hong Kong students to tie in with the education system of Hong Kong smoothly, both sides will strengthen the assistance to classes for Hong Kong students this year. In the 2015/16 school year, two more minban schools providing about 200 additional places are expected to join the scheme for the Hong Kong students. As for the transportation arrangements for the cross-boundary students (CBS), the two sides will increase the number of the special quota for CBS coaches as far as possible to allow the students to go to school safely.

Cultural exchange

     Since the signing of the "Greater Pearl River Delta Cultural Exchange and Co-operation Development Plan 2014-2018 between Hong Kong and Guangdong" in November last year, the two sides have been actively pursuing various projects under the Development Plan. This year, both sides will seek to implement the arrangement of the regional museum pass for Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao and increase the number of places for the Hong Kong students to participate in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Youth Cultural Exchange this summer.

Other key co-operation areas

     Other key co-operation items in the 2015 Work Plan include cross-boundary infrastructure, tourism, trade and investment, intellectual property, food safety, social security, etc.

2015 Work Plan of the Framework Agreement on Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation

     Mrs Lam and Ms Zhao signed the 2015 Work Plan of the Framework Agreement at the meeting.

     HKSAR Government officials accompanying the CS in attending the meeting included the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam; the Acting Secretary for Development, Mr Eric Ma; the Permanent Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Ms Chang King-yiu; the Under Secretary for the Environment, Ms Christine Loh; the Under Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan; the Under Secretary for Education, Mr Kevin Yeung; the Under Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Godfrey Leung; and the Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Mr James Lau.

Ends/Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Issued at HKT 20:02


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