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CEPA Proves a Boon to HK Economy
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The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between the mainland and Hong Kong has benefited Hong Kong's economy by boosting trade, creating jobs, attracting investment and spurring tourism, according to a recent survey by the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

Signed in June 2003 to lift Hong Kong out of the gloom caused by the SARS outbreak, the CEPA gives qualified Hong Kong firms and professionals preferential access to mainland markets.

The HKSAR government sent questionnaires to more than 2,600 enterprises in the manufacturing and service industries for the study on CEPA's economic impact.

The results show that CEPA created 36,000 new jobs for Hong Kong people from 2004 to last year.

Of the 3,642 new jobs expected to be created this year, 1,438 vacancies will be reserved for Hong Kong residents on the mainland, the survey said.

"Most of the new jobs will be in the service sectors such as banking and accounting," said Stanley Lau Chin-ho, vice-chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries.

The study also showed that CEPA had created almost 17,000 jobs on the mainland by the end of last year, with Hongkongers filling 1,000 of them.

Capital investment could grow 60 percent or more year-on-year if the opportunities presented by the CEPA are fully embraced, said Lau.

Eighty-nine percent of the companies responding to the survey said the CEPA had benefited the economy in terms of trade of goods, and 77 percent felt the preferential trade arrangement had helped the manufacturing sector.

CEPA helped draw HK$305 million (US$39 million) worth of investment into the manufacturing sector in 2005 and 2006, and a further HK$239 million is seen coming in this year and beyond.

For trade in services, 74 percent said CEPA had boosted the economy, and 92 percent said the agreement had benefited their own industries.

CEPA had attracted HK$4.8 billion worth of investment to the services sector as of last year, representing a rise of 380 percent over the amount in 2004. An additional HK$2.4 billion is expected this year and beyond.

Meanwhile, 49 mainland cities have been included in the Individual Visit Scheme to Hong Kong. The scheme had resulted in 17.2 million trips by mainlanders to Hong Kong by the end of last year, accounting for 39 percent of all the visitors from the mainland. They generated an additional HK$9.3 billion worth of tourist revenue last year, almost 38 percent more than in 2004.

(China Daily June 29, 2007)

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