The Mainland/Macao Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) was signed in Macao Friday afternoon.
Chinese Vice-President Zeng Qinghong and Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) government Edmund Ho HauWah attended the signing ceremony of the arrangement, which was held in the Government House of Macao.
The Mainland/Macao CEPA to go into force on January 1 next year will promote the bilateral trade in logistics, serve, and facilitate trade and investment.
The Mainland/Macao Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) will become a win-win trade mechanism, which will give Macao a higher stand in planning a long-term economic development, said Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce An Min.
In an interview with Xinhua before the signing of the CEPA slated for Friday afternoon, An said the drafting of CEPA was not a simple result of brainwork. It was a necessary sequel of the economic development in Hong Kong, Macao and the mainland. The trade deal has its essence in the removal of trade barriers in logistics, service trade and investment facilitation.
"The trade pact will be a milestone to mark a new stage of integration of the economy between the mainland and Macao over 20 years after the mainland's introduction of economic reform and opening-up and nearly four years after Macao's return to the motherland," he said.
"As a mechanism, CEPA will guarantee a fair play in trade on the basis of mutual benefit. The one that can make the best use of the mechanism can be the biggest beneficiary of the policy, and can contribute to the further improvement of the CEPA terms," he added.
Compared to Hong Kong, which signed CEPA with the mainland at the end of June, Macao's economic structure is rather simple with the prioritized industry given to gaming-oriented tourism. However, An said that CEPA will provide Macao with a new business scope to rationalize its economic structure while exerting its advantages in a more vigorous matter.
With the total coverage of a little more than 26 square kilometers, Macao has developed a stable trade with the mainland with the annual bilateral trade amount averaged at one billion US dollars. The sector witnessed a fast growth in the first eight months this year with the figure adding up to 880 million US dollars, even though the economy was negatively influenced by the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in the first half year, and CEPA has not been put into service.
As in the tourist sector, Macao has witnessed a sharp increase of tourists from the mainland, which registered an annual growth of 20 percent last year as a result of the mainland's facilitated policy on Hong Kong and Macao-bound tourism. CEPA will further encourage the passenger flow so as to give impetus to the development of tourism-related industry in the small city situated to the southern part of the booming Pearl River Delta Region.
An said that China has stuck to the basic principle of "Macao people govern Macao." The Chinese government hoped the CEPA deal would provide a fundamental help to the improvement of the economic structure in Macao.
"But how to use the policy will be for the independent decision of the Macao Special Administrative Region government," he emphasized.
(Edited by China.org.cn from Xinhua October 17, 2003)