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HK and Macao sign CEPA to further trade cooperation

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Wednesday, 20 July 2016 00:00

Source : Government Information Bureau

The 9th Hong Kong-Macao Cooperation High Level Meeting was held in Macao today and the two parties initialled the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement Between Hong Kong and Macao (HK-Macao CEPA) during the meeting.

Secretary for Economy and Finance, Mr Leong Vai Tac, described the HK-Macao CEPA as beneficial to the liberalisation and optimisation of the investment environment in the two regions.

Mr Leong noted that the trade pact would give full play to the intrinsic advantages of Hong Kong and Macao, such as the status of a free port, and progressively promote economic cooperation between the two regions.

He added that this new agreement, together with the CEPA between Macao and mainland China, would bring about a positive multiplying effect on regional cooperation.

His Hong Kong counterpart, Mr John Tsang Chun-wah, echoed Mr Leong’s expectations and said he hoped the new agreement would facilitate economic integration between Hong Kong and Macao and raise their competitiveness.

The two parties will strive to formally sign the HK-Macao CEPA by the end of this year.

In today’s meeting, Hong Kong and Macao also agreed to set up a task force on promoting economic cooperation, including trade, tourism, logistics and foreign direct investments, between the two regions.

The task force will be the first joint entity established under the HK-Macao cooperation mechanism and will help the two sides exchange economic information in a more timely manner.

Created in accordance with relevant principles and rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the HK-Macao CEPA is a free trade agreement with the aim of strengthening economic integration and trade development between the two parties while facilitating the movements of commodities, services and capital.

The main document of the HK-Macao CEPA covers trade in goods and services, facilitation of investments, and intellectual property.

As both Hong Kong and Macao are free ports, the two sides will impose zero tariffs on the goods imported from the other party and reduce non-tariff trade barriers.

The two sides also agree not to implement anti-dumping or anti-subsidies measures against each other.

Measures on facilitating customs clearance will be introduced to further promote trade in goods between Hong Kong and Macao.

Regarding trade in services, the two parties will continue to negotiate the list of liberalised services, which will be beyond the current trade concessions made at the WTO by the two parties.

The HK-Macao CEPA, however, does not cover the free movement of personnel (for the purposes of education or work) between the two parties.

Mr Leong Vai Tac pointed out that Hong Kong and Macao had made substantive progress in cooperation in trade, tourism, infrastructure development, transport, environmental protection, education, culture, e-government, judicial issues, maritime affairs, and public health.

Mr Leong said Hong Kong and Macao would jointly make use of the opportunities arising from the national 13th Five-year Plan and the “one belt, one road” initiative.

He suggested that Hong Kong and Macao could jointly work with Guangdong to push ahead with the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Big Bay Area.

Other issues discussed in today’s meeting included the HK-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and cooperation in youth affairs.

It has been agreed that the two parties will expedite construction of the HK-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and will press ahead with talks on cross-border interconnection policies.

The Chief of the Office of the Secretary for Economy and Finance, Ms Lok Kit Sim; Adviser to the Chief Executive, Mr Kou Chin Hong; Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs of Hong Kong, Mr Raymond Tam; Permanent Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs of Hong Kong, Ms Chang King Yiu; and representatives of the relevant departments of Hong Kong and Macao also attended today’s meeting.