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HK urged to grasp opportunity of closer economic ties with mainland
( 2003-07-04 10:11) (Xinhua)

Hong Kong should seize the opportunity brought about by the Mainland-Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) to win in the fierce international competition, said Hong Kong's Financial Secretary Antony Leung Thursday.

Attending a symposium on CEPA held by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council and the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau, Leung said the arrangement is an important step for Hong Kong on the road of economic recovery, and will facilitate Hong Kong's economic restructuring.

The arrangement will not only consolidate the status of Hong Kong as the international financial and trade center, but also make investors around the globe recognize that Hong Kong will maintain its advantages and become a springboard of exploring the vast market of Chinese mainland, said Leung.

He noted that the arrangement was widely welcomed and supported by Hong Kong business circle. And it is believed that CEPA will bring new momentum for Hong Kong's economic growth.

Obviously, it is up to the businessmen from Hong Kong and elsewhere in the world to decide whether and how they would like to leverage on the CEPA to gain greater access into the mainland market, said Leung.

CEPA, signed on June 29, covers three broad areas, namely trade in goods, trade in services and trade and investment facilitation. The arrangement has good potential to open up many new business opportunities in Chinese mainland for Hong Kong.

The zero import tariff preference may attract to Hong Kong manufacturing of brand name products, or manufacturing process with high value-added content or substantial intellectual property input. The WTO-plus market liberalization measures for trade in services would give companies in Hong Kong a "first mover" advantage.

At a luncheon held by the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and the Chinese Manufacturers Association of Hong Kong here Thursday, Vice-Minister of Commerce An Min said that the arrangement will exert a great influence on the economic and trade ties between Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.

The reciprocal arrangement will push forward the economic integration between the two sides and realization of common development, said An.

The CEPA is fully consistent with the WTO rules governing free trade areas, he noted. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will continue to be a separate customs territory and a separate member of the WTO.

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