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CEPA on Right Track: HK Official

The implementation of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) has been exceedingly smooth since it was signed a year ago, said a spokesman for HK economic department on Tuesday.

"We are fully committed to helping Hong Kong businesses capture market and investment opportunities under CEPA. We will continue to work closely with our Mainland counterparts to be as business friendly as possible," the spokesman for Trade and Industry Department said.

The department has received 398 applications for Hong Kong Service Suppliers (HKSS) Certificates since October last year, of which 345 applications have been approved. Of the 1,207 applications submitted for CEPA Certificates of Origin, or CO (CEPA), since December last year, 1,118 have been issued, involving a total value of about 450 million HK dollars (US$58 million), according to the spokesman.

"We originally expected some initial glitches at the outset. We did not have any prior experience and the timetable for us to get ready was too short and ambitious when compared with other free trade agreements. But problems did not occur," said the spokesman, adding "We manage to deal with the challenges successfully."

"With the agreement of the Mainland, from May this year we have been able to provide greater flexibility to process applications from groups of companies that wish to apply for HKSS Certificates. Eligible companies engaged in substantive business operations in the form of groups of companies may now enjoy the benefits of CEPA," he said.

"On the trade in goods side, we processed over 200 applications for the next phase of tariff elimination in 2005, covering over 700 Mainland tariff codes."

To ensure that Hong Kong companies are familiar with CEPA, the department has organized or participated in about 130 seminars, briefings and workshops in the past few months to introduce the content and implementation details of CEPA to major local chambers of commerce, and to industry and trade organizations, said the spokesman.

(Xinhua News Agency June 29, 2004)

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