LCQ12: Promoting alignment of rules between Hong Kong and Mainland on vocational qualifications
There are views pointing out that currently the vocational qualifications of a number of industries in Hong Kong and on the Mainland are in a self-contained manner with no interfaces, thus hindering the development of cross-boundary businesses and utilisation of manpower resources by enterprises. With the country's promulgation and implementation of the 14th Five-Year Plan and the further integration of Hong Kong into the overall development of the country, cross-boundary businesses and flow of talents between Hong Kong and the Mainland have been increasing, and the alignment of rules between Hong Kong and the Mainland on vocational qualifications has become more and more important. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it has conducted systematic surveys and studies on the alignment of rules on vocational qualifications between Hong Kong and the Mainland; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) whether it will set up a dedicated matching group to push the work of alignment of rules, and expeditiously promote mutual recognition of qualifications of practitioners in Hong Kong and on the Mainland in the financial industry engaging in the trading of securities and funds; and
(3) whether it will consider, in respect of some industries in Hong Kong for which there is a shortage of talents, introducing measures under an "early and pilot implementation" approach to align the rules on vocational qualifications in these industries with those of the relevant industries on the Mainland, including mutual recognition of some vocational qualifications, and exemption for relevant practitioners from some subjects in qualifying examinations?
Under the new development pattern of the National 14th Five-Year Plan featuring dual circulation interacting positively with each other, with Hong Kong as a participant of the domestic circulation and a facilitator of the international circulation, the professional service sectors will play an active and important role in order to seize the enormous opportunities. The Government has been seeking to open up the Mainland market to Hong Kong services through the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), including having Hong Kong professionals obtained professional qualifications on the Mainland through mutual recognition, in order to register for practice and establish business on the Mainland, thereby entering the Mainland market and participating in the national development.
Having consulted the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the consolidated reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:
At present, various government bureaux and departments facilitate the discussion of agreements or arrangements for mutual recognition of professional qualifications as well as their specific content (e.g. accreditation, exemption of examination subjects, etc.) between professional bodies and regulatory authorities of the two places in accordance with the needs and relevant regulatory requirements of professional sectors. Once signed, the relevant agreements or arrangements for mutual recognition of professional qualifications can be incorporated under the CEPA framework as preferential liberalisation measures for trade in services between the two places. To date, the Mainland and Hong Kong have, under the CEPA framework, signed multiple agreements for mutual recognition of professional qualifications, or put in place exemption arrangements for papers of professional qualification examinations, including securities and futures, accounting, real estate, as well as general practice surveyors, architects, structural engineers, planners, quantity surveyors and building surveyors under the construction sector.
Concerning securities and futures professionals, the procedures for Hong Kong professionals applying for securities and futures industry qualifications on the Mainland have been simplified, as the relevant qualifications can be obtained by passing the examination on the Mainland laws and regulations, without having to pass the examination on professional knowledge. Hong Kong professionals having passed the examination on the Mainland laws and regulations may be granted industry qualifications by the Securities Association of China or the China Futures Association. For Hong Kong professionals having so obtained the industry qualifications, where they are licensed and have been approved as a Responsible Officer in Hong Kong, such licence status will be equivalent to having satisfied the required qualifications for being employed as senior management personnel on the Mainland. Where they are licensed as a representative in Hong Kong, such licence status will be equivalent to having obtained the general industry qualifications on the Mainland.
The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and the Trade and Industry Department will continue to explore with the Mainland the further broadening of market liberalisation and the promotion of trade and investment under the CEPA framework, and co-ordinate the bureaux and departments to implement the liberalisation measures. Furthermore, various bureaux and departments will continue to encourage Hong Kong's professional bodies and regulatory authorities to step up their exchanges and co-operation with the Mainland, expand the scope of mutual recognition of professional service qualifications, and create more preferential conditions for entering the Mainland market, so as to allow more Hong Kong professionals to provide quality services on the Mainland and integrate into the national development.
Ends/Wednesday, July 13, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:00
Issued at HKT 15:00