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Service companies lin HK ukewarm to CEPA
( 2003-12-12 16:25) (China Daily)

Despite hot talk about the huge benefits the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) will bring to Hong Kong, it seems the attitude of service companies remains cautious.

Only 15 companies have successfully applied for a certificate verifying them as a Hong Kong service supplier up till yesterday, a spokesman for the Trade and Industry Department told China Daily.

Under the trade pact between the mainland and the territory, Hong Kong companies in 18 service sectors can enjoy concessions from next year, such as lower entry requirements or permission to operate wholly-owned businesses, while a list of Hong Kong-made products enjoy zero tariffs.

Such Hong Kong companies and goods are then required to obtain certificates from the Trade and Industry Department to verify that they are qualified for the concessions under CEPA.

Among the 15 companies with the certificates, five are from the telecommunications sector, another five from transportation, three from distribution, and one each from the advertising and banking sectors, he said.

Applications of such certificates have been available since October 2 for the telecommunications sector and from November 17 for the other 17. Applications for Hong Kong goods will open on Monday.

"We have great expectations of the mainland market, however,we might want to understand it better before making any moves," said Alan Yip, chairman of the Hong Kong Designers Association.

The association will hold a seminar on CEPA next month to brief its members about opportunities, he said.

Yip, who is also the director of Yip Design, said his company has not yet applied for a certificate.

"We just set up a joint venture in Zhuhai. I think we have to wait for some time to open a wholly-owned office on the mainland," he said.

"We are participating in an expo for professional services in Shenzhen in mid-December," Yip added. "If the response is good, we might consider setting up a wholly-owned company there."

In another development, the Joint Steering Committee of the mainland and Hong Kong, which is set up to resolve problems arising from the interpretation or implementation of CEPA, will hold its first meeting on Wednesday in Beijing, a government statement said.

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