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The central government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government have inked an updated version of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangements (CEPA) - a step that would boost the trading of goods between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.
The Agreement on Trade in Goods under the CEPA framework was signed on Friday in the presence of Fu Ziying, international trade representative and vice-minister of commerce and Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the chief executive of HKSAR.
Under the agreement, goods of Hong Kong origin imported into the mainland will enjoy zero tariffs, starting from January 2019, through the enhanced agreement or rules of origin (ROO).
Besides, a general ROO - based on the calculation of the value added to the products in Hong Kong - has also been introduced under the agreement, allowing products without product-specific ROOs at present to enjoy zero tariffs while being imported into the mainland subject to fulfillment of the general ROO.
At the same time, the agreement establishes principles of trade facilitation and sets out measures to expedite Customs clearance of goods with a view to facilitating movement of goods in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, thereby enhancing the Customs clearance capacity and efficiency of the control points in Guangdong and Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, the facilitation measures also include simplifying Customs procedures, enhancing transparency of related measures and strengthening cooperation in the relevant areas.
The CEPA upgrade signifies that the mainland and Hong Kong have established a comprehensive, independent Customs territory, and entered into a brand-new phase of cooperation, said Fu Ziying, adding that the signing of the agreement would lead to more collaboration platforms afterward.
The Agreement on Trade in Goods is an ever-evolving and dynamic protocol, said Paul Chan Mo-po, financial secretary of Hong Kong SAR, adding that the upgrade of CEPA this time is a milestone for the economic and trade cooperation between the mainland and the SAR.
The CEPA, which has been on for 15 years, offers Hong Kong enterprises the most favorable conditions for doing businesses on the mainland, while the ceaseless efforts of SAR entrepreneurs in the mainland market have been a catalyst for economic transformation and upgrading, as well as industrial modernization, said Chan.
Hong Kong will embark on further liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, and further enrich the CEPA framework, added Chan, in an effort to fully utilize the potential of the mainland market.
The central government also signed the Agreement on Trade in Goods under the updated version of CEPA with the Macao SAR government on Wednesday, which finalized 19 policy measures for mutually beneficial cooperation, further tearing down barriers for cross-border trade between the two sides.