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Bigger Stage Set for HK Professionals

The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangements (CEPA) between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong pushed ahead Thursday as the two sides signed cooperative agreements on the mutual recognition of insurance and real estate professionals.

A delegation of Hong Kong officials and professional representatives met with the relative authorities in Beijing to discuss cooperation in professional fields, including real estate, medical services, securities, insurance, accounting and law.

After the meeting, the two sides signed an agreement on the mutual recognition of accreditation for architects and a draft agreement for structural engineers, followed by the agreement on the qualification test given to insurance agency professionals.

"As part of CEPA, the progress on mutual recognition will help the two sides complement each other and consolidate Hong Kong's role as a center of professional services," said An Min, vice-minister of commerce.

HKSAR's Financial Secretary Henry Tang, who headed the Hong Kong delegation, also applauded the "concrete progress" in co-operation. "It will help our professional services benefit from the tremendous business opportunities brought by CEPA," Tang told a press conference.

The co-operation in professional recognition is not limited in real estate and insurance industries.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission and its Hong Kong counterpart signed an agreement last year for mutual recognition of personnel in securities and futures.

The two sides yesterday agreed to ensure the arrangement will be carried out.

In accounting, the two sides have established a joint work group to negotiate firstly the mutual exemption of required courses for qualification tests.

The two sides also discussed possible co-operation in medical and legal services, such as relaxing the limit on Hong Kong lawyers allowed to practice on the mainland.

They also agreed to start negotiations in March about Hong Kong residents acquiring mainland patent agent qualification by taking the relevant tests.

(China Daily February 18, 2004)

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