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CEPA creates business opportunities for construction sectors

The Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) had given service providers in Hong Kong an advantage over foreign companies with an earlier and easier opportunity to enter the Mainland market, the Permanent Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works (Works), Mr Lo Yiu-ching, said today (June 8). 

Mr Lo said that, in the construction and related engineering services, 23 Hong Kong contractors had successfully got Grade A or above qualification certificates to establish their businesses on the Mainland.  In the construction engineering design services, another 23 Hong Kong consultant companies had got Grade A or B qualification certificates.

Addressing the opening ceremony of a forum on the "Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement" (Construction Sectors), Mr Lo said that after three rounds of discussion in CEPA between 2003 and 2005, through efforts made by the governments of the two places and the Hong Kong construction sectors, the sectors had gained better results than other services sectors.  (Appendix shows various preferential treatments under CEPA for the Hong Kong construction sector).

To promote exchanges in knowledge, experience and talent in the relevant professions and to enhance the competitiveness of both sides, the mutual recognition of professional qualifications was an important agenda under CEPA. 

The discussion and implementation of the mutual recognition of professional qualifications was basically a matter for the professional bodies. The Environment, Transport and Works Bureau had been closely liaising with the Ministry of Construction as well as professional associations of both sides to promote and co-ordinate the work in this regard, Mr Lo said.

 "Until now, mutual recognition agreements have been signed for five professions: real estate appraisers (estate surveyors in Hong Kong); architects; structural engineers; planners; and cost engineers (quantity surveyors in Hong Kong). A total of 1,290 people from the two places have so far obtained their reciprocal professional qualifications," Mr Lo said.

Professional bodies of both sides continued to discuss actively the mutual recognition for construction supervising engineers, geotechnical engineers, electrical engineers, utility engineers, landscape architects and land surveyors.

Mr Lo also said that due to the differences in the systems and business environment between the two sides, the relevant sectors in Hong Kong might not fully understand the policy and implementation of CEPA in detail.  The forum would provide an opportunity for the sectors to express their views on the provisions of CEPA, the market entry requirements and application procedures for qualification certificates as well as the issues relating to mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

The CEPA (Construction Sectors) Forum , the first of its kind jointly organised by the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau, the Ministry of Construction and the Ministry of Commerce in Hong Kong, has three objectives. 

Firstly, it publicises among relevant sectors in Hong Kong the provisions in CEPA regarding the construction related professional services, construction and related engineering services, real estates services and urban planning services; and explains to them issues they may encounter when making use of such preferential treatment to operate on the Mainland. 

Secondly, it reviews the achievements of CEPA in the construction sectors after the implementation in the past three years. 

Thirdly, it strengthens the communication and co-operation of the related sectors from both sides and enables the relevant sectors in Hong Kong to express their views, so as to improve the implementation of the various CEPA concessions, and to provide reference for the next round of CEPA consultation.
Also participating at the CEPA forum were Deputy Director General of Economic Affairs Department, Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, Mr Wang Hui, the Vice Director of the Department of Planning and Financing, Ministry of Construction, Mr Zheng Li-jun; the Director of the Department of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, Mr Sun Tong; Deputy Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works, Mr Wai Chi-sing; the Director of Highways, Mr Mak Chai-kwong; the Director of Civil Engineering and Development, Mr Chai Sung-veng; the Director of Water Supplies, Mr Chan Chi-chiu; the Director of Architectural Services, Mr Yue Chi-hang; the Director of Drainage Services, Mr Wong Chee-keung; and the Deputy Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services, Mr Ho Kwong-wai.

Ends/Thursday, June 8, 2006