The conclusion of the Mainland/Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) would greatly enhance economic cooperation and integration between the Mainland and Hong Kong, said Financial Secretary of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Antony Leung Sunday.
Speaking at a press conference held after the CEPA signing ceremony, Leung said the arrangement would also open preferential and World Trade Organization plus access opportunities for Hong Kong products and services in the Mainland.
"Trade and investment between the two places would also be facilitated as a result of the cooperative measures agreed under CEPA," the financial secretary said.
Leung, representing the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, and the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Commerce An Min, representing the Central People's government, signed the CEPA at a ceremony held at Government House Sunday.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Tung Chee Hwa presided over the signing.
The CEPA covers three broad areas, namely trade in goods, trade in services and trade and investment facilitation.
On trade in goods, the Mainland has agreed to apply zero import tariff from January 1, 2004 for exports from Hong Kong meeting the CEPA rules of origin requirement.
The Mainland has also agreed to apply zero import tariff latest by January 1, 2006 upon applications by local manufacturers for other codes maintained on China's tariff system and meeting the CEPA rules of origin.
On trade in services, a number of sectors will benefit in terms of additional market access or removal of specific restrictions in the Mainland market.
They include management consultant services, exhibitions and conventions, advertising, legal services, accounting services, medical and dental services, real estate and construction services, transport services, distribution, logistics, forwarding services, storage services, tourism, audiovisual, banking, securities and insurance.
On the part of Hong Kong, it will undertake to continue to apply zero tariff for Mainland products and not to introduce new or additional discriminatory measures against services and service suppliers of the Mainland.
With regard to trade and investment facilitation, both sides agree on promoting cooperation in seven areas, namely, customs clearance; quarantine and inspection of commodities, quality assurance and food safety; small and medium-sized enterprises; Chinese medicine and medical products; electronic commerce; trade and investment promotion; and transparency in law and regulations.
(Xinhua News Agency June 29, 2003)