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Mainland, HK sign expanded economic agreement
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The Chinese central government and the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Tuesday signed Supplement V to the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), which will allow Hong Kong enterprises greater and easier access to the mainland market.

The supplement was a fifth supplement to CEPA, which has been expanded each year since it was first signed in 2003. The supplement was signed by John Tsang, financial secretary of the HKSAR government, and the central government's Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei at a ceremony witnessed by HKSAR Chief Executive Donald Tsang.

Donald Tsang said the new economic accord, which comes into force on Jan. 1, 2009, will introduce 29 measures that will build on the liberalization of 15 services sectors and open two more mining-related services sectors to Hong Kong businesses.

The total number of services sectors covered by the CEPA and its supplements will thereby be expanded from 38 to 40, Jiang said. Under the agreements, the mainland has agreed to exempt tariffs for all products of Hong Kong origin and allow preferential treatment to Hong Kong service suppliers in the service sectors.

Donald Tsang welcomed the new agreement, adding that Hong Kong and the neighboring mainland province of Guangdong have agreed to carry out a package of pilot measures.

"The current CEPA package and the Guangdong pilot measures will offer new business opportunities in the mainland for Hong Kong businesses and service suppliers, making Hong Kong even more attractive to overseas investors," he said.

Under the expanded agreement, enterprises set up by Hong Kong suppliers of convention and exhibition services in Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqing and Zhejiang will be allowed to organize overseas exhibitions on a pilot basis.

Mainland-incorporated banking institutions established by a Hong Kong bank will be allowed to locate its data center in Hong Kong, subject to certain requirements.

In the construction industry, restriction on the proportion of the capital contributed by the mainland partners in joint ventures in the mainland will be removed.

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