Guangdong Province, Hong Kong and Macao will cooperate even more this year, Guangdong officials said Wednesday.
"Economic ties between the three have never been so strong and this is because of two closer economic partnership arrangements (CEPA)," said Tang Hao, deputy chief secretary of Guangdong Provincial Government.
Tang said the priority in 2004 is to cooperate more in 18 service sectors and build ports and other large infrastructure facilities.
Governments in Guangdong have until April 1 to develop detailed measures to help the 18 Hong Kong service sectors penetrate the Guangdong market.
The services range from business registration, tourism, accounting and law to logistics, stocks, transport, banking, security and insurance.
According to Le Chaopei, deputy director of the Guangdong Provincial Industrial and Commercial Administration, more than 40 applications for self-employed businesses have been received from Hong Kong and Macao permanent residents since January 1.
Thirty-four business licenses have been issued.
Professional shopping centers specializing in Hong Kong products have been set up in Guangzhou, and others serving similar functions are being built in Zhongshan and Shenzhen.
"Hong Kong Zero-tariff Products City," located on the prosperous Beijing Road, has attracted throngs of consumers since it started business on January 15.
A local newspaper, Nanfang Daily, said 99 per cent of the merchants in the city did good business in the last month.
Meanwhile, private companies in Guangdong have also been encouraged to enter the Hong Kong and Macao markets.
"That's a key way of making themselves stronger and penetrating the international market," said Chen Shanru, director of the Guangdong Provincial Committee for Reform and Development.
Tang said independent tourism to Hong Kong and Macao is expected to be permitted throughout Guangdong Province from May 1.
He also called for the expansion of port capacity to match the increases in people and cargo.
Huanggang port in Shenzhen, for example, is receiving about 250,000 to 300,000 passengers a day but was designed for 200,000 persons at most.
(China Daily February 12, 2004)