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CEPA 'a boon' both for Hong Kong and mainland
Latest Updated by 2006-07-27 08:54:07

The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA, has been extending benefits both to Hong Kong and the mainland, a SAR government official said yesterday.

"As a strategic agreement between the mainland and Hong Kong, it (CEPA) has facilitated and liberalized trade between the two further," said Raymond Young, Director-General of Trade and Industry Department of the Hong Kong SAR government.

Since the implementation of CEPA I on January 1, 2004, as many as 29,000 new jobs have been created in Hong Kong, he said.

"Till June 2006, Hong Kong goods worth HK$4.8 billion had enjoyed preferential tariff given by the mainland.

"Capital investment in service sectors increased by HK$5.5 billion in 2004,... thanks to CEPA." It rose last year too.

The Individual Travel Scheme under CEPA that allows mainland residents to visit Hong Kong more conveniently generated an additional spending of HK$6.5 billion in 2004 and HK$9.9 billion in 2005 in the territory.

Young said that not only Hong Kong, but also the mainland were benefiting from CEPA.

"With CEPA in place, it has become easier for mainland enterprises to invest in Hong Kong because they find the whole application procedure simpler now," Young said.

Till date, as many as 378 mainland enterprises have obtained approval to invest in Hong Kong, with their total investment reaching US$2.23 billion.

Young said CEPA would bring substantial benefits to mainland consumers and help improve the standards of the mainland's developing service industries.

"While Hongkongers export more products to the mainland, the consumers there get a chance to try more 'made in Hong Kong' products," he said.

With the implementation of CEPA III on January 1, 2006, 1,370 Hong Kong-made products have met CEPA Rules of Origin (ROO) requirements and can be exported to the mainland free of tariff.

When Supplement III of CEPA was announced on June 29, 2006, another 37 Hong Kong-made products were added to the zero tariff list, raising the total number to 1,407.

The new supplement contained 15 new liberalization measures spread across 10 mainland service sectors: legal, construction, IT, convention and exhibition, audiovisual, distribution, tourism, air transport, road transport and individually owned stores.

"When the new liberalization measures become effective from January 1, 2007, Hongkongers will find it easier to work on the mainland and provide their professional services there," Young said.

Under the new measures, Hong Kong lawyers and barristers, for example, will find more access to the mainland market. Hong Kong barristers can become agents in civil litigation cases on the mainland, while Hong Kong residents qualified as legal practitioners on the mainland can act as mainland lawyers in matrimonial and succession cases relating to Hong Kong.

"The recently-concluded agreement on mutual recognition of professional qualifications between Hong Kong and the mainland will help Hong Kong professionals to hunt for jobs too," Young said.

Under the agreement professional qualifications obtained in Hong Kong, such as those in accounting, insurance practice, patent agents and securities and futures industries, will be recognized by the mainland.

Mainlanders with Hong Kong permanent residentship who set up individually owned stores on the mainland can, under the new measures, provide five more services, viz crop cultivation, animal husbandry, aquaculture, computer repair and technology exchange and promotion services.

"These new measures will stimulate the entrepreneurship of Hong Kong residents further and accelerate the economic integration between Hong Kong and the mainland," Young said.

By March 2006, a total of 2,040 stores had been opened by Hongkongers on the mainland, with 89 per cent or 1,807 of them doing so in the neighbouring province of Guangdong.

Editor: Yan

By:Jonathan Yeung Source:China Daily Website
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