CS attends inter-ministries joint conference on Qianhai in Beijing
Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, led the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government delegation to attend in Beijing today (February 21) the second meeting of the Inter-ministries Joint Conference on the Development of Qianhai Area in Shenzhen.
Mrs Lam said, "Qianhai has been designated by the Central Government as a Hong Kong/Guangdong modern service industry innovation and co-operation exemplary zone, highlighting the importance of Hong Kong/Shenzhen co-operation to achieve mutual benefits, and allowing Hong Kong businesses to take part in the development of Qianhai at an earlier stage and in a broader and deeper scale."
In June 2012, the Central Government announced "The Supporting Policies of the Development and Opening up of Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone of Shenzhen" (Qianhai Policies), which includes market liberalisation and preferential taxation measures, setting out clearly the business opportunities that may be brought about by the development of Qianhai. At today's meeting, representatives from relevant ministries of the Central Government, Guangdong Provincial Government, Shenzhen Municipal Government and the HKSAR Government reviewed work progress since approval of the Qianhai Policies in June last year. They also conducted in-depth discussions on further development of Qianhai, and expressed support for taking full advantage of the positioning of Qianhai to drive the development of modern service industries.
Mrs Lam emphasised that in order to encourage Hong Kong's enterprises, the vast majority of which were small and medium entreprises (SMEs), to actively invest and set up businesses in Qianhai, market entry thresholds for Hong Kong entreprises should be lowered, and good business environment should be provided to facilitate Hong Kong entreprises to set up business with ease, for example, by introducing a simple business registration system similar to that of Hong Kong.
To deepen the implementation of the Qianhai Policies, Mrs Lam put forward a number of specific market liberalisation proposals, including:
* On financial services - opening up more channels for the cross-boundary circulation of renminbi; suitably lowering Hong Kong entreprises' entry requirements for setting up financial business in Qianhai, and relaxing the shareholding limit of Hong Kong entreprises in joint-venture companies. These would support the development of financial industry in Qianhai and reinforce Hong Kong's status as a major offshore renminbi business centre.
* On legal services - considering allowing Hong Kong-invested entreprises in Qianhai to adopt Hong Kong law as the applicable law in handling business disputes, and using Hong Kong as the location of choice for arbitration.
* On professional services - promptly implementing the policy of "allowing professionals who have been qualified in Hong Kong to provide professional services to entreprises and residents in Qianhai". Given that infrastructural works for development of Qianhai have started, it is hoped that concrete measures would be put in place as soon as possible to give recognition to the qualifications of Hong Kong professionals and entreprises and to allow them to register and practise in Qianhai, so as to facilitate them to provide consultancy, planning and design services, and to bid for construction projects in Qianhai.
According to the consensus reached between the governments of Hong Kong and Shenzhen, the Shenzhen Municipal Government takes a leading role and is responsible for the development and management of Qianhai, while the HKSAR Government plays an advisory role by providing comments on development planning as well as the study and formulation of related policies.
The HKSAR Government will continue to actively reflect the views of Hong Kong businesses on Qianhai development to the relevant ministries, and to the Guangdong and Shenzhen authorities through the inter-ministries joint conference and regional co-operation platforms to facilitate the early introduction of investment facilitation policies and related implementation details, hence enabling Hong Kong businesses to fully understand the actual investment environment of Qianhai as early as possible.
The meeting was chaired by the National Development and Reform Commission and attended by senior officials of relevant ministries of the State Council, the respective governments of HKSAR, Guangdong and Shenzhen.
Other members of the HKSAR Government delegation included the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So; the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam; the Permanent Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Ms Chang King-yiu; the Permanent Secretary for Development (Works), Mr Wai Chi-sing; the Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Ms Julia Leung; and the Solicitor General, Mr Frank Poon.
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