HONG KONG, May 9 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese central
government and the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
signed on Saturday the sixth supplement to an important trade agreement to give
Hong Kong firms greater and easier access to the mainland market for tourism,
securities and banking services, among others.
The Supplement VI to the Mainland and Hong Kong
Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) was signed by John Tsang,
financial secretary of the HKSAR government, and the central government's Vice
Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei in Hong Kong at a ceremony witnessed by HKSAR
Chief Executive Donald Tsang.
Speaking at the ceremony, Donald Tsang said the
supplement agreement will introduce 29 measures that will build on the
liberalization of 20 services sectors and open two more sectors of research and
development and rail transport to Hong Kong businesses.
The total number of services sectors covered by the
CEPA and its supplements will thereby be expanded from 40 to 42, Jiang said.
Under the agreements, the mainland has agreed to exempt tariffs for all products
of Hong Kong origin and allow preferential treatment to Hong Kong service
suppliers in the service sectors.
The new measures will take effect on Oct. 1, 2009,
three months earlier than usual, to "allow the trade to enjoy the benefits
earlier," Jiang said at the ceremony.
Donald Tsang welcomed the agreement, saying that the
new measures will be mutually beneficial and help mitigate the impacts of the
ongoing economic downturn.
Under the new agreement, mainland travel agents
authorized to operate group tours to Taiwan can organize group tours for
mainland residents to enter Hong Kong in transit. The aim was to help the travel
trade develop multi-destination tourism packages.
Authorization requirements have been also further
relaxed under the agreement for Hong Kong commercial banks to establish
sub-branches or service points, while qualified securities firms in Hong Kong
and the mainland will be allowed to establish joint businesses in Guangdong, the
mainland province neighboring Hong Kong.