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Macao Given Wider Access
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The central government yesterday granted Macao-based companies larger access to the Chinese mainland market in 11 more industries by signing a new supplement to the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) with the Macao Special Administrative Region government.

The agreement was signed in Macao by Vice-Minister of Commerce Liao Xiaoqi and Tam Pak-yuen, the economy and finance officer of the Macao SAR government.

The amendments, which are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2008, followed a similar supplement signed with Hong Kong last Friday on the eve of the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the mainland.

CEPA, which is the first free trade agreement made and implemented comprehensively by the Chinese mainland at the highest level, was signed between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao in June 2003. Three supplements have previously been made to the agreement.

Under the fourth supplement to the CEPA, the mainland will open 11 additional areas to Macao businesses, including in sports, the environment, translation and public utilities.

"Opening-ups have been made in sectors with Macao in the industries concerned," Liao said.

In tourism, the minimum annual business turnover required of a Macao travel agency establishing a joint venture on the mainland will be reduced to US$8 million from US$12 million and for wholly owned enterprises lowered from US$25 million to US$15 million.

Macao travel companies are allowed to expand their Hong Kong and Macao tour businesses from South China's Guangdong Province, before the single pilot project area, to another eight provinces and autonomous regions.

(China Daily July 3, 2007)

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