The Chinese mainland/Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) became effective from zero hour Thursday with the support of the central government and joint efforts of the industry and commerce circles of both sides.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2004, goods of Hong Kong origin which fall into the Chinese mainland's 273 tariff categories enjoy zero tariff treatment when entering into the mainland market.
Guo Li, deputy director of the Liaison Office of the Chinese People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), visited Hong Kong's Lok Ma Chau and Shenzhen's Huanggang cargo boundary check points at zero hour Thursday.
At the cross border check points, she, on half of the liaison office, congratulated the personnel of industry and commerce circles of both sides on the formal operation of CEPA.
She said the central government has attached great importance to the follow-up work after the signing of CEPA. The State Council has informed related departments, provinces and cities of the implementation of CEPA.
She said she believed that with the coordination of the Ministry of Commerce and detailed preparations which have been made, CEPA can be implemented smoothly.
Guo said CEPA meets the requirements for promoting the economic development and economic and trade cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong and for dealing with the challenges brought about by economic globalization.
She said that CEPA is also an important step to help Hong Kong achieve economic recovery and to realize mutual prosperity of both sides.
Guo said the implementation of CEPA is a milestone in the economic cooperation process between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong and it indicates that their economic and trade relations have entered into a new stage.
The Chinese mainland has arranged multi-level training courses for customs officers for the implementation of CEPA, and the computer monitoring system of the mainland customs has been linked with that of the Hong Kong customs and is ready for operation.
Starting on Thursday, the customs of both sides will adopt unified customs clearance forms.
The Chinese mainland and Hong Kong signed CEPA on June 29, 2003, which covers three areas, namely commodities trade, services trade and trade and investment facilitation.
The implementation and revision of the CEPA will be carried out in accordance with the "one country, two systems" principle in line with the rules of the World Trade Organization, conforming to the needs of the two sides in readjusting and upgrading industrial structure, and on the basis of mutual benefit.
As of Jan. 1, the mainland opens more of its service sectors to Hong Kong. The areas that are open to Hong Kong cover management and consultation, exhibition services, accounting, architecture and real estate, medical services and distribution.
In the areas of trade and investment facilitation, the mainland and Hong Kong will strengthen cooperation in the following areas: namely, trade and investment promotion, customs clearance, commodities quarantine, inspection and quality certification, e-commerce, transparency of laws and regulations, cooperation among small- and medium-sized enterprises and the development of traditional Chinese medicine.
(Xinhua News Agency January 1, 2004)