SAR to boost mainland links, CEPA

Updated: 2017-01-19 07:35

By Lin Wenjie in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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SAR to boost mainland links, CEPA

Journalists stretch our their hands for chances to ask questions of Chief Executive during the media session of 2017 Policy Address on Wednesday. The SAR is expected to further strengthen its ties with the mainland in near future and tap into the huge market along the Belt and Road regions. Roy Liu / China Daily

Chief Executive vows city will step up B&R role as project gathers momentum

Hong Kong will continue to strengthen its economic and trade links with the Chinese mainland by further supporting the Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative and expanding the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) in the fields of investment, and economic and technical cooperation, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying pledged in his Policy Address on Wednesday.

The SAR is preparing to join a Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held in Beijing in May. It will be the highest-level forum to be hosted by the central government since the launch of the B&R Initiative.

Following a successful inaugural Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong in May last year, a similar event will be held in September this year. To be jointly organized by the SAR government and Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the summit will feature B&R related sessions at seminars and expos, Leung said.

After the establishment of the Hong Kong Belt and Road Office last August, the SAR government found it necessary to beef up the office operations and resources, including the creation of directorate and other permanent posts to ensure it can take the work forward under the initiative more effectively and on a long-term basis.

The Belt and Road Office is to provide recommendations on formulating and implementing strategies relating to the B&R strategy, and to liaise with government bureaux and departments to tap new opportunities for Hong Kong under the project.

On the other hand, Hong Kong will also consider relaxing visa requirements for nationals of B&R economies for employment, study and visit. In addition to the government-fund scholarship for students from Indonesia, totaling less than HK$2 million a year, two other B&R scholarships funded by private donations for students from Malaysia and Thailand will be launched in the next academic year.

As for expanding the CEPA, Leung said the government expects to achieve some "concrete results" by the middle of this year.

A government source told China Daily that in CEPA's investment sector, Hong Kong is considering further easing restrictions on local financial institutions entering the mainland market, extending the Mutual Recognition of Funds to include other types of products, as well as allowing Hong Kong insurance products and sophisticated financial products to be sold on the mainland.

Currently, eligible Hong Kong insurance companies can only set up branches in the China (Guangdong) Pilot Free Trade Zone, carrying out trials for shipping insurance and liability insurance. Those branches of the Hong Kong insurance companies are treated as mainland insurance institutions and are subject to the same or similar supervisory regulations.

On the local stock market, the benchmark Hang Seng Index jumped 1.13 percent to close at 23,098 points on Wednesday - the highest in two-and-a-half months.

(HK Edition 01/19/2017 page2)