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Results of the First Phase of CEPA

CEPA was first signed on 29 June 2003. The commitments related to professionals and companies (in order to enjoy the concessions concerned, Hong Kong companies need to obtain a Certificate of Hong Kong Service Supplier from the Trade and Industry Development (TID). For details, please refer to TID's Hong Kong Service Supplier web page) of professional services and construction and related engineering services include:-

 
  • Regarding professional services, including architectural services (CPC8671), engineering services (CPC8672), integrated engineering services (CPC8673) and urban planning and landscape architectural services (CPC8674) (except general urban planning), to allow Hong Kong service suppliers to provide, in the form of wholly-owned operations, architectural services, engineering services, integrated engineering services, urban planning and landscape architectural services in the Mainland.  (Hong Kong service suppliers may set up wholly-owned engineering consultancy companies in the Mainland to provide services.)
  • Regarding construction and related engineering services, including pre-erection work at construction sites (CPC511), construction work for buildings (CPC512), construction work for civil engineering (CPC513) (including dredging services relating to infrastructure construction), assembly and erection of prefabricated constructions (CPC514), special trade construction work (CPC515), installation work (CPC516), building completion and finishing work (CPC517) and renting services related to equipment for construction or demolition of buildings or civil engineering works, with operator (CPC518) (Coverage is limited only to the rental and leasing services of construction and/or demolition machines (with operators) which are owned and used by foreign construction enterprises in the course of providing services.)
    • For construction enterprises set up in the Mainland by Hong Kong service suppliers, the performance of both the enterprises in Hong Kong and in the Mainland is taken into account in assessing the qualification of the construction enterprises in the Mainland. However, the number of managerial and technical staff in the construction enterprises in the Mainland will be the actual number of staff working there.
    • To allow Hong Kong service suppliers to wholly acquire construction enterprises in the Mainland.
    • Construction enterprises in the Mainland set up and invested by Hong Kong service suppliers are exempted from foreign investment restrictions when undertaking Chinese-foreign joint construction projects.
    • Construction enterprises in the Mainland invested by Hong Kong service suppliers will follow the relevant laws and regulations in the Mainland for application of construction qualification certificates. Those which have acquired such certification are permitted in accordance with laws to bid for construction projects in all parts of the Mainland.

Note: CPC is the UN Provisional Central Product Classification used by the WTO.

Results of the Second Phase of CEPA

The CEPA Joint Steering Committee High Level Meeting was held on 27 August 2004 in Beijing. Both sides had reached a consensus and signed a Record of Consultations on Further Liberalization covering both trade in goods and trade in services. Subsequently, both sides signed the Supplement to CEPA in Hong Kong on 27 October 2004. Additional commitments relevant to the construction and related engineering services include:-

 
  • For construction enterprises set up in the Mainland by Hong Kong service suppliers, the construction contract performance of the enterprises both in the Mainland and outside the Mainland is taken into account in assessing the qualification of the construction enterprises in the Mainland. However, the number of managerial and technical staff in the construction enterprises in the Mainland will be the actual number of staff working there.
  • There will be no restriction on the proportion of Hong Kong permanent residents being project managers approved by the qualification administration authorities for construction enterprises in the Mainland set up by Hong Kong service suppliers.
  • Hong Kong service suppliers who have already obtained the certificate of approval for establishment of enterprises with investment of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao in the Mainland but have not yet obtained the construction enterprise qualification certificate may apply, before 1 July 2005, for a certificate for undertaking single construction project based on their signed construction contract and "Construction Qualification Certificate for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Enterprise". Subject to the preliminary vetting and agreement of construction administration department at provincial level, the application will be processed by the Ministry of Construction.
  • The residency requirement is waived for Hong Kong permanent residents employed as engineering technical staff and financial managerial staff in construction enterprises in the Mainland set up by Hong Kong service suppliers.
  • The commitments in relation to construction and related engineering services stated above have been implemented from 28 August 2004.
  • To allow eligible Hong Kong residents to take the following qualification examinations for professionals in the Mainland: registered architect, registered structural engineer, registered civil engineer (geotechnical), construction supervising engineer, cost engineer, registered town planner, certified safety engineer, registered nuclear safety engineer, constructor, registered public facility engineer, registered chemical engineer, registered civil engineer (harbour and waterway), registered facility supervising engineer, environmental impact assessment engineer, real estate appraiser, registered electrical engineer, certified public valuer and registered consulting engineer (investment). Certificates of the relevant professional qualifications will be issued to those who pass the examination.

Results of the Third Phase of CEPA

Following the signing of the Supplement to CEPA, the consultation for the third phase of CEPA commenced in early 2005. Both sides concluded the consultation and signed the Supplement II to CEPA on 18 October 2005 in Hong Kong. Among others, additional commitments relevant to the professional services of the construction sector include:-

 
  • For construction and engineering design enterprises and urban planning service enterprises set up in the Mainland by Hong Kong service suppliers, the performance of the enterprises both in Hong Kong and in the Mainland is taken into account in assessing the qualification of the enterprises in the Mainland.
  • To relax the requirements under Article 15 of the Ministry of Construction Decree No. 114 "Regulations on Administration of Foreign-Invested Construction and Engineering Design Enterprises" as follows: on the application as a construction and engineering design enterprise by a wholly foreign-owned construction and engineering design enterprise set up by a Hong Kong service supplier in the Mainland, the number of Hong Kong residents qualified as certified architects or certified engineers in China and the number of Hong Kong residents having the relevant design experience should not be less than 1/4 of the total number specified under the qualification grading criteria for certified practising staff and key technical personnel; on the application as a construction and engineering design enterprise by an equity or contractual joint venture construction and engineering design enterprise set up by a Hong Kong service supplier in the Mainland, the number of Hong Kong residents qualified as certified architects or certified engineers in China and the number of Hong Kong residents having the relevant design experience as key technical personnel should not be less than 1/8 of the total number specified under the qualification grading criteria for certified practising staff and key technical personnel.
  • For urban planning service enterprises, in the form of equity joint ventures or contractual joint ventures, set up in the Mainland by two or more Hong Kong service suppliers, the performance of all individual enterprises both in Hong Kong and in the Mainland is taken into account in assessing the qualification of the equity joint ventures or contractual joint ventures enterprises in the Mainland.
  • To relax the requirement of the residential period in the Mainland for Hong Kong professional and technical staff by counting their period of residence in Hong Kong as their period of residence in the Mainland.

Results of the Fourth Phase of CEPA

After continual and in-depth consultation, the Mainland and Hong Kong signed Supplement III to CEPA during the CEPA Joint Steering Committee High Level Meeting held on 27 June 2006 in Hong Kong. Under the Supplement III, additional commitments relevant to the professional services of the construction sector include:-

 
  • To allow Hong Kong service suppliers to set up wholly-owned construction engineering cost consulting enterprises in the Mainland.
  • When applying for qualification, the performance of the Hong Kong service suppliers in both Hong Kong and the Mainland is taken into account in assessing their qualification in the Mainland.

Results of the Fifth Phase of CEPA

Both sides continued consultation and signed the Supplement IV to CEPA on 29 June 2007 to further promote the recognition and registration of professional qualifications in construction and related domains:-

 
  • Competent authorities or professional bodies of both sides will commence exchanges on the mutual recognition of qualifications of registered electrical exploration & design engineers and registered public facility exploration & design engineers and will start technical exchanges on registered geotechnical exploration & design engineers and land surveying.
  • Both sides will establish a working group to study and take forward matters in connection with registration and practice for construction sector professionals after they have acquired professional qualifications through mutual recognition.

Results of the Sixth Phase of CEPA

The Mainland and Hong Kong commenced the next phase of CEPA consultations soon after the signing of Supplement IV to CEPA in 2007 and signed supplement V to CEPA on 29 July 2007. Commitments relevant to the construction and construction-related sectors include:-

 
  • Competent authorities or professional bodies of both sides will carry on the mutual recognition of qualifications for professionals in disciplines which have mutual recognition agreements signed and well-tested conditions met.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's Registered Urban Planner qualification, are allowed to register in Guangdong Province regardless of whether they are registered in Hong Kong or not.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's Supervision Engineer qualification, are allowed to register and practise in Guangdong Province regardless of whether they are registered practitioners in Hong Kong or not.
  • When the Hong Kong service suppliers set up construction and engineering design enterprises in the form of equity joint venture or contractual joint venture in the Mainland, there is no restriction on the proportion of the total capital contributed by the Mainland partners to the registered capital.

Results of the Seventh Phase of CEPA

Both sides continued consultation and signed Supplement VI to CEPA in Hong Kong on 9 May 2009. Commitments relevant to the construction and construction-related sectors include:-

 
  • The two sides agree to take forward the work on mutual recognition of professional qualifications (supervision engineering) between Supervision Engineers of the Mainland and Building Engineers of Hong Kong and recognition of Hong Kong Architects for obtaining qualification of Supervision Engineers of the Mainland.
  • Competent authorities or professional bodies of both sides will take forward the technical exchanges of landscape architectural professionals between the two sides.
  • From the signing date of this agreement and before promulgation of the new "Standards for the Qualifications of Construction Enterprises", the recognition policy of the then-Ministry of Construction for Hong Kong Project Managers concerning the qualification assessment of Hong Kong-invested construction enterprises with Mainland will remain unchanged. The recognition of Hong Kong Project Managers will remain valid for the purpose of qualification administration of such enterprises employing them originally.
  • After promulgation of the new "Standards for the Qualifications of Construction Enterprises", the originally recognized Hong Kong Project Managers will be allowed to continue to act as Project Managers of projects that they contracted or have commenced construction before promulgation of the standards, until completion.

Results of the Eighth Phase of CEPA

The Mainland and Hong Kong signed supplement VII to CEPA on 27 May 2010. Among others, commitments relevant to the construction and construction-related sectors include:-

 
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's registered first class architect qualification or Mainland's registered first class structural engineer qualification, are allowed to act as partners to set up construction and engineering design offices in the Mainland in accordance with the relevant qualification requirements.
  • For the above enterprises, there is no restriction on the ratio of the number of the Hong Kong partners to the number of the Mainland partners, the ratio of the total capital contributed by the Hong Kong partners to that by the Mainland partners, and the residential period in the Mainland for the Hong Kong partners.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's registered first class architect qualification by mutual recognition of professional qualification, are allowed to register and practise in Guangdong regardless of whether they are registered practitioners in Hong Kong or not.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's registered first class structural engineer qualification by mutual recognition of professional qualification, are allowed to register and practise in Guangdong regardless of whether they are registered practitioners in Hong Kong or not.
  • To allow Hong Kong permanent residents to take the qualification examination for real estate valuer in the Mainland. Certificate of Mainland professional qualification of real estate valuer will be issued to those who pass the examination.

Results of the Ninth Phase of CEPA

The Mainland and Hong Kong commenced the next phase of CEPA consultations soon after the signing of Supplement VII to CEPA in 2010 and signed supplement VIII to CEPA on 13 December 2011. Commitments relevant to the construction and construction-related sectors include:-

 
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's construction professional qualifications through mutual recognition, are allowed to register and practise in Guangdong and enjoy the same treatment as Mainland professionals having the same professional qualifications.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's class 1 registered architect qualification through mutual recognition, are recognized as registered practitioners for the purpose of declaration of engineering design enterprise qualifications within Guangdong, in accordance with the relevant Mainland regulations.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's class 1 registered structural engineer qualification through mutual recognition, are recognized as registered practitioners for the purpose of declaration of engineering design enterprise qualifications within Guangdong, in accordance with the relevant Mainland regulations.
  • To allow eligible Hong Kong permanent residents to take the qualification examination for land surveyors in the Mainland, and a certificate will be issued to those who pass the examination.

The Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of Guangdong Province had issued the relevant notice for the above arrangements and the arrangements were implemented on 1 May 2012.

 

Results of the Tenth Phase of CEPA

Both sides continued consultation and signed Supplement IX to CEPA in Hong Kong on 29 June 2012. Commitments relevant to the construction and construction-related sectors include:-

 
  • The two sides shall continue with the mutual recognition of professional qualifications between real estate appraisers in the Mainland and general practice surveyors in Hong Kong, and between cost engineers in the Mainland and quantity surveyors in Hong Kong.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's supervision engineer qualification, are allowed to register and practise in Guangdong Province regardless of whether they are registered practitioners in Hong Kong. They are recognized as registered practitioners for the purpose of declaration of supervision enterprise qualifications within Guangdong Province, in accordance with the relevant Mainland regulations.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained through examination Mainland's registered architect qualification, are allowed to register and practise in Guangdong Province regardless of whether they are registered practitioners in Hong Kong. They are recognized as registered practitioners for the purpose of declaration of engineering design enterprise qualifications within Guangdong Province, in accordance with the relevant Mainland regulations.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained through examination Mainland's registered structural engineer, registered civil engineer (harbour and waterway), registered public facility engineer, registered chemical engineer or registered electrical engineer qualification, are allowed to register and practise in Guangdong Province regardless of whether they are registered practitioners in Hong Kong. They are recognized as registered practitioners for the purpose of declaration of engineering design enterprise qualifications within Guangdong Province, in accordance with the relevant Mainland regulations.

Results of the Eleventh Phase of CEPA

The Mainland and Hong Kong commenced the next phase of CEPA consultations soon after the signing of Supplement IX to CEPA in 2012 and signed Supplement X to CEPA on 29 August 2013. Commitments relevant to the construction and construction-related sectors include:-

 
  • The serving key technical personnel who are natural persons holding Hong Kong identity document in the construction and engineering design enterprises set up in the Mainland by Hong Kong service suppliers, are exempted from the requirement of residing in the Mainland for a cumulative period of no less than six months in a year.
  • Regarding elective courses of the continuing education which Mainland's registered architects have to attend, Hong Kong service suppliers are allowed to complete elective courses in Hong Kong or to be taught by Mainland teachers in Hong Kong. The arrangement for conducting elective courses of the continuing education must be recognized by the Mainland authorities.
  • To allow contractual service providers (see Note) employed by Hong Kong service suppliers, in the mode of movement of natural persons, to provide architectural, engineering, integrated engineering as well as construction and related engineering services in the Mainland.

Note: The "contractual service provider" refers to a natural person who holds a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region identity document and enters the Mainland to provide temporary service for the performance of the service contract(s) secured in the Mainland by his/her employer. His/her employer should be a Hong Kong service supplier without commercial presence in the Mainland. The remuneration of a contractual service provider during his/her stay in the Mainland will be borne by the employer. The contractual service provider should possess academic qualification and technical (professional) qualification relevant to the services provided. During his/her stay in the Mainland, the contractual service provider cannot involve in any service activities irrelevant to the contract.

Results of the Twelfth Phase of CEPA

The Mainland and Hong Kong signed the Agreement between the Mainland and Hong Kong on Achieving Basic Liberalization of Trade in Services in Guangdong ("the Guangdong Agreement") on 18 December 2014.

The Guangdong Agreement adopts a hybrid approach of negative and positive listings in further liberalization. The negative list is a more transparent and comprehensive way of listing liberalization commitments.

Specific commitments offered under the Guangdong Agreement include:-

 
  • Mainland has opened up 11 sub-sectors of construction and related engineering services in Guangdong to participation by Hong Kong enterprises and professionals by way of a negative list. In respect of the mode of "commercial presence" (i.e. establishment of enterprise in Guangdong by Hong Kong service suppliers), national treatment is offered except 7 measures set out as inconsistent with or inapplicable to the obligation of national treatment
  • Regarding elective courses of the continuing education which class 1 registered structural engineers have to take, Hong Kong service suppliers are allowed to complete the courses in Hong Kong or to be taught by teachers sent from the Mainland. The arrangement for taking the elective courses of continuing education are subject to the approval of the Mainland authorities.
  • Regarding the elective courses of continuing education which supervision engineers have to take, Hong Kong service suppliers are allowed to complete all the course in Shenzhen Municipality.
  • When Hong Kong service suppliers set up construction and engineering design enterprises in Guangdong Province, they are allowed to employ architects and structural engineers registered in Hong Kong (who have not yet obtained the relevant professional qualifications in the Mainland), who may be regarded as key professional and technical personnel, but not registered personnel, in assessing the enterprise qualifications.
  • When foreign wholly-owned or joint-venture urban-rural planning enterprises declare their enterprise qualifications in Guangdong Province, Hong Kong professionals in their employment, who have obtained Mainland's registered planner qualification through mutual recognition, can be regarded as essential registered personnel during the assessment.
  • Hong Kong residents who meet the relevant requirements are allowed to take the following professional and technical personnel qualification examinations for : registered fire engineers, registered land surveying and design engineers, medical practitioners specialized in public health, veterinary practitioners. Corresponding qualification certificates will be issued to those who have passed the examinations.

Results of the Thirteenth Phase of CEPA

On the basis of the Guangdong Agreement and after further discussion, the Mainland and Hong Kong signed the Agreement on Trade in Services on 27 November 2015.

The Agreement on Trade in Services continues to adopt a hybrid approach of negative and positive listings in further liberalization.  In the negative list, the geographical coverage for the opening up of the 11 sub-sectors of construction and related engineering services to participation by Hong Kong enterprises and professionals has been extended from Guangdong to the whole Mainland, while restrictive measures have been reduced and access conditions have been further liberalised.  The details are at Appendix I.

Measures which have been further liberalised in the negative list are as follows:

 
Restrictive measure which has been cancelled in the negative list
  • Architectural and design services (CP8671) - Except the provision of engineering survey services.
Restrictive measures which have been further liberalised in the negative list
  • Engineering services (CP8672) - Except the provision of engineering services for civilian water conservation projects such as reservoirs and dams, etc, and engineering survey services.
  • Integrated engineering services (CP8673) - Except the provision of engineering services for civilian water conservation projects such as reservoirs and dams, etc, and engineering survey services.
  • Urban planning and landscape architectural services (CP8674) - Except the provision of general urban planning services, services for general planning for national-level scenic areas and engineering survey services.
  • General construction work for civil engineering (CPC513) - Except engagement in general construction services for civilian water conservation projects such as reservoirs and dams etc.

In addition to new measures, commitments relating to liberalisation of trade in services provided in CEPA and its Supplements and also the Guangdong Agreement have been covered and consolidated in the positive list.  Details of the positive list are at Appendix II.

New liberalisation measures in the positive list are as follows:

 
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's construction professional qualifications through mutual recognition, are allowed to register and practise in Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian and enjoy the same treatment as Mainland professionals having the same professional qualifications.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland’s registered urban planner qualification, are allowed to register in Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian regardless of whether they are registered in Hong Kong.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland’s supervision engineer qualification, are allowed to register in Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian regardless of whether they are registered practitioners in Hong Kong.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's supervision engineer qualification, are recognised as registered practitioners for the purpose of declaration of supervision enterprise qualifications within Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian, in accordance with the relevant Mainland regulations.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's class 1 registered architect qualification by mutual recognition, are allowed to register and practise in Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian regardless of whether they are registered practitioners in Hong Kong.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's class 1 registered architect qualification through mutual recognition, are recognised as registered practitioners for the purpose of declaration of engineering design enterprise qualifications within Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian, in accordance with the relevant Mainland regulations.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained through examination Mainland's registered architect qualification, are allowed to register and practise in Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian regardless of whether they are registered practitioners in Hong Kong.  They are recognised as registered practitioners for the purpose of declaration of engineering design enterprise qualifications within Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian, in accordance with the relevant Mainland regulations.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's class 1 registered structural engineer qualification by mutual recognition, are allowed to register and practise in Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian regardless of whether they are registered practitioners in Hong Kong.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained Mainland's class 1 registered structural engineer qualification through mutual recognition, are recognised as registered practitioners for the purpose of declaration of engineering design enterprise qualifications within Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian, in accordance with the relevant Mainland regulations.
  • Hong Kong professionals, who have obtained through examination Mainland's registered structural engineer, registered civil engineer (harbour and waterway), registered public facility engineer, registered chemical engineer or registered electrical engineer qualification, are allowed to register and practise in Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian regardless of whether they are registered practitioners in Hong Kong. They are recognised as registered practitioners for the purpose of declaration of engineering design enterprise qualifications within Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian, in accordance with the relevant Mainland regulations.

Results of the Fourteenth Phase of CEPA

The Mainland and Hong Kong signed the "Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation" ("Ecotech Agreement") and the "Investment Agreement" on 28 June 2017. Only two articles in the Ecotech Agreement involve construction-related professional services:-

(a) Chapter 5, Article 21: Deepening the Cooperation between Hong Kong and Qianhai, Nansha and Hengqin; and
(b) Chapter 6, Article 25: Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications

The Ecotech Agreement does not cover market access commitments or substantive liberalisation measures, but lays the foundation and charts the course for higher level of cooperation between the two sides. Details regarding construction-related professional services are as follows:-

 
  • The two sides give full play to existing cooperation platforms and liaison mechanisms to promote the deepening of cooperation between Hong Kong and Qianhai, Nansha and Hengqin.
  • The two sides support Qianhai, Nansha and Hengqin in taking forward further liberalisation to Hong Kong in key areas such as finance, transportation and shipping, commerce and trade, professional services and technology on an early and pilot basis, and explore new modes to deepen economic cooperation with Hong Kong.
  • The two sides agree to take forward mutual recognition of professional qualifications in the areas of construction and related engineering and real estate, etc.
  • Relevant authorities or professional bodies of the two sides will commence exchanges on the mutual recognition of qualifications of electrical and public facility engineers and will start technical exchanges on civil engineers (geotechnical) and land surveyor
  • The two sides will establish a working group to study and take forward matters in connection with registration and practice for construction sector professionals after they have acquired professional qualifications through mutual recognition.
  • Relevant authorities or professional bodies of the two sides will carry on the mutual recognition of qualifications for professionals in disciplines where mutual recognition agreements have been signed and conditions well met.
  • Study the matters related to carrying on the mutual recognition of qualifications between Supervision Engineers of the Mainland and Building Surveyors of Hong Kong.  Relevant authorities or professional bodies of the two sides will commence the mutual recognition of professional qualifications (supervision engineering) between Supervision Engineers of the Mainland and Building Engineers of Hong Kong, and exchanges in recognition of Hong Kong Architects obtaining qualification of Supervision Engineers of the Mainland.
  • Relevant authorities or professional bodies of the two sides will take forward the technical exchanges of landscape architectural professionals between the two places.
  • The two sides will continue with the mutual recognition of professional qualifications between real estate appraisers in the Mainland and general practice surveyors in Hong Kong, and between cost engineers in the Mainland and quantity surveyors in Hong Kong.
  • Relevant authorities and professional bodies of the two sides will study, consult, and formulate specific methodologies for mutual recognition of professional qualifications.