Chinese mainland, Hong Kong sign agreement to lower services market thresholds
The Chinese mainland and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) signed here on Thursday an agreement on the liberalization and facilitation of trade in services to lower the mainland market access thresholds for Hong Kong enterprises and professionals.
The Agreement Concerning Amendment to the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) Agreement on Trade in Services was signed by the HKSAR government's Financial Secretary Paul Chan and Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Bingnan.
The new agreement updates the commitments on liberalization and facilitation of trade in services under the CEPA agreement on Trade in Services implemented in June 2016, and lowers the market access thresholds in the mainland for Hong Kong enterprises and professionals in response to proposals of the Hong Kong business community for more participation in the development of the mainland market, the HKSAR government's Trade and Industry Department said in a press release on Thursday.
The new agreement introduces new liberalization measures in a number of important services sectors such as financial services, legal services, construction and related engineering services, testing and certification, television, motion pictures and tourism services, making it easier for Hong Kong service suppliers to set up enterprises and develop business in the mainland, allowing more Hong Kong professionals to obtain qualifications to practice in the mainland, and allowing more of Hong Kong's quality services to be provided to the mainland market.
The liberalization measures take various forms, including removing or relaxing restrictions on equity shareholding, capital requirements and business scope in the establishment of enterprises; relaxing qualification requirements for provision of services by Hong Kong professionals; and relaxing the quantitative and other restrictions for Hong Kong's exports of services to the mainland market.
In addition, the agreement introduces some liberalization measures for pilot implementation in the nine Pearl River Delta municipalities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, said the press release.
In the sector of tourism services, the 144-hour visa-exemption transit policy would be enhanced for foreign group tours entering the Pearl River Delta Area and Shantou from Hong Kong, which can facilitate Hong Kong's tourism trade to develop more multi-destination products targeting foreign visitors.
The new agreement will be implemented on June 1, 2020.
In his address at the signing ceremony, Chan said the new agreement demonstrates the resolution of the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong to promote market openness and free trade despite the fact that rising protectionism and unilateralism has impeded international trade and hindered global economic development.