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Macao talks moving smoothly
( 2003-09-04 10:07) (China Daily)

Negotiations to promote closer economic partnership arrangements (CEPA) between the Chinese mainland and Macao are going smoothly and expected to finish by the end of this October, senior officials said yesterday.

This will make it possible for Hong Kong and Macao both to launch their CEPA with the Chinese mainland by January 1, said Wang Liaoping, director general of the Department of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs under the Ministry of Commerce.

Hong Kong signed its CEPA with the central government on June 29.

Wang said the third round of talks will be conducted with Macao's Secretary for Economy and Finance Tam Pak Yuen, when he visits Beijing from Monday to Saturday.

Two earlier negotiation sessions were held in June and July respectively.

Tam said the negotiations are going smoothly.

He said the talks will draw on the experience of closer economic partnership arrangements between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.

"But some adjustments will be made according to the specialties of Macao," Tam said.

CEPA is actually the same as a free trade zone in granting zero tariffs, allowing regional economic co-operation between a national entity and independent tariff areas. The arrangement will cover trading of goods and services as well as investment facilitation measures.

The mainland imported US$101 million from Macao and exported US$650 million to the region in the first seven months of this year, according to mainland statistics.

The mainland imported US$142 million and exported US$876 million last year.

Tam believes the arrangement will give a big boost to Macao's economic development.

Officials made the remarks at a press conference at the Forum of Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.

Chen Jian, assistant minister of commerce, said the forum, to be held in Macao during October 12-14, is expected to promote economic and trade exchange between China and Portuguese countries.

"The forum will also help Macao to develop its role as a platform to link China and Portuguese countries," Chen said.

Ministerial official in charge of economy and trade, commercial organizations and entrepreneurs from China and Portuguese countries including Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal and East Timor will participate the forum.

A framework document will be drawn out by the ministerial officials to give direction on the economic and trade co-operation.

China will also sign bilateral agreement on technological co-operation with Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, and East Timor.

"There is huge room for co-operation given that Portuguese-speaking countries have 200 million people representing a large population and market potential and since China is the largest developing country in the world," Chen said.

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