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Ministry backs Guangdong’s HK-Macao FTZ proposal

2014-01-24 08:34 Global Times Web Editor: qindexing

The Ministry of Commerce (MOC) on Thursday said it supports Guangdong Province's proposal to establish a free trade zone (FTZ) incorporating the province and neighboring Hong Kong and Macao.

Sun Tong, deputy director-general of the Department of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs at MOC, told a press conference that the proposed FTZ in Guangdong should feature its advantage in engaging Hong Kong and Macao, and serve the common interests of all three parties.

In his report delivered to the provincial legislature, Guangdong Governor Zhu Xiaodan said last week that the province will apply for the establishment of the FTZ this year.

The Guangzhou-based Yangcheng Evening News Thursday reported that interdepartmental groups have concluded studies on Guangdong and Tianjin's FTZ proposals, and another 10 regions are also mulling whether to establish FTZs after the establishment of a pilot FTZ in Shanghai.

Li Youhuan, a senior economist at the Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the Guangdong FTZ is expected to be approved "very soon." "The planned areas - Guangzhou's Nansha, Shenzhen's Qianhai and Zhuhai's Hengqin - will form a delta, to give full play to their proximity to Hong Kong and Macao."

Sun also said that central authorities will strive to broaden the width and depth of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA). a free trade agreement between the mainland and Hong Kong signed in 2003, to meet the target of liberalizing bilateral service trade by the end of 2015.

According to MOC, the mainland has opened up 93.1 percent of the WTO's 160 sub-sectors of services to Hong Kong.

Sun said introducing a negative list and granting pre-establishment national treatment are among the MOC's options to further deepen the extent of CEPA's opening.

"But these would only be introduced judging on the conditions of CEPA's development and whether we could reach a consensus with the government in Hong Kong," Sun said.

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