BEIJING:China will continue to offer strong support to economic development of its Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, said minister in charge of the country’s National Development and Reform Commission on Wednesday.
Xu Shaoshi, the minister, made the remarks at a press conference in Beijing hosted by the 2nd Session of China’s 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) on the economic situation and macro-economic control.
“The central government has been providing much support to Hong Kong and Macao in their economic development. The Chinese mainland has signed respectively with Hong Kong and Macao the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) and 10 supplements since 2003. CEPA represents the highest opening-up level of goods and service trade between the Chinese mainland and the two special administrative regions,” Xu said.
CEPA is one of the Chinese mainland’s earliest free trade protocols and Hong Kong’s first agreement regarding free trade. The agreement and its following 10 supplements were designed to reduce or exempt tariffs and realize trade liberalization and investment cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong.
Renminbi (RMB) business between the mainland and Hong Kong has been seeing stable growth in recent years, Xu said.
“We help Hong Kong develop Renminbi (RMB) business. RMB settlements between Hong Kong and the mainland reached 3.55 trillion yuan in 2013, and that’s a very huge amount,” Xu said.
Xu said more free trade zones in the mainland will bring more opportunities for Hong Kong to further develop its economy,
“The Shanghai pilot free trade zone has been operating smoothly since it was launched on September 30, 2013, and I think that will bring new development opportunities for Hong Kong. While building more pilot free trade zones in the mainland, the central government will continue to help Hong Kong consolidate and lift its status as a financial, shipping and trade center in the world,” Xu said.