Guangdong could win big from CEPA
( 2003-08-04 09:34) (China Daily)
Guangdong will be the mainland's biggest winner under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) with Hong Kong if the South China province acts positively, experts said.
"Guangdong has the potential to benefit most from the arrangement," said Zhang Hanlin, president of the China Institute for WTO Studies at the Beijing-based University of International Business and Economics.
Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou enjoy the same level of preferential trade treatment under the arrangement.
However, the advantage of location plays a big role among all the factors contributing to general economic capacity, Professor Zhang told a conference held in Guangzhou at the weekend. Delegates from the economic academic circles and industry representatives attended the conference organized by the Guangdong Sub-Council of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
The main topics of the conference were what the partnership arrangement can bring to Guangdong and Hong Kong and how the interests of both sides can be maximized.
After the Chinese mainland joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, there were many calls for a free-trade area between the mainland and Hong Kong, which was already a member. But the arrangement was only signed on June 29.
"If it had come earlier, Hong Kong's economic situation would be better than it is now," Zhang told the conference.
Zero-tariff free trade would have been very convenient for Hong Kong traders, he said.
At the same time, a greater variety of manufacturers would have transferred their production bases to Guangdong thanks to the free-trade agreement.
However, the signing of the partnership arrangement does not mean that trading rules are now perfect.
"Many holes remain in the current partnership arrangement," said Eden Y. Woon, chief executive of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce.
Woon said the arrangement merely supplies a framework or an idea, through which people get a glimpse of an ideal type of trading style.
But there are still many specific problems to be solved, he said. "We have to submit some 51 queries concerning the arrangement's regulations to the Hong Kong government," he said.
According to Zhang, a special high-tech free-trade zone should be established to cover Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
A tourism free-trade zone could cover Hong Kong and Hengqin Island in the city of Zhuhai, he suggested.
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