The Chinese mainland will sign a framework agreement this year to facilitate trade and investment with the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR).
The two sides will conclude consultations on the so-called closer economic partnership arrangements (CEPA) by the end of October and trigger the implementation on Jan. 1, 2004, said Wang Liaoping, director of the Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Department of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).
China launched the negotiations on June 20, and the second talks were held in July, Wang said.
The contract will focus on eliminating obstacles to trade and investment and promoting the free trade of cargo and service, Wang said.
"That's important for both the mainland and Macao," Wang said.
Tam Pak Yuen, secretary of economy and finance of Macao SAR, said that the agreement will promote the proper diversification and the overall and sustainable development of Macao's economy.
The Chinese mainland signed closer economic partnership arrangements with Hong Kong SAR in July.
Macao, which was formerly under Portugal's rule, serves as a bridge between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries, including Portugal, Brazil, East Timor and some African countries, said Chen Jian, MOC assistant to the minister.
The trade agreement will further Macao's role in promoting trade and investment between China and those Portuguese-speaking countries, Chen said.
China will hold a forum on economic cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, which have a population of 200 million, from Oct. 12-14 in Macao, Chen said.
The forum includes ministerial meetings and trade conferences. The participating countries are striving to institute framework contracts on economic cooperation, Chen said.
(Xinhua News Agency September 4, 2003)