Speech at Council Meeting-Members’ Motions“Strengthening the joint development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area”

Motion on “Strengthening the joint development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area”

President, the National Development and Reform Commission promulgated the Qianhai Overall Development Plan at the end of last year, which proposes a series of policies and measures to support Hong Kong in reinforcing and enhancing its competitive advantages.  Thereafter, the Three-year Action Plan for the Development of International First-class Business Environment in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (“the Action Plan”) was promulgated.  The objective is to basically establish a business environment system in the Greater Bay Area (“GBA”) connected to international common rules over a three-year period.

As a microcosm of “one country, two systems”, the GBA cities and Hong Kong have been constrained by factors such as the lack of convergence of the mechanisms between the respective systems, tax zones, currencies and laws and regulations of the two places.  There is often a problem of “big doors are open, but small doors are not yet open”.  The Action Plan focuses on the key areas of business environment development, integrating with the progress in GBA, and set out objectives in five key areas.  The SAR Government should act more proactively in removing the existing barriers to cooperation, resulting in a faster and smoother flow of people, goods, capital and information between the two places and undoubtedly creating a win-win situation.

The Action Plan mentioned the need to thoroughly implement “GBA Connectivity initiative” in response to practical needs, including 24-hour customs clearance to make cross-boundary travel in Hong Kong more convenient.  As mainlanders and Hong Kong people exchange more frequently, the “one-hour living circle” has become a way of life for them.  However, the customs arrangements have not kept pace with the times.  With only two boundary control points (“BCPs”) operating overnight and neither of which is connected by railway, the level of convenience is unsatisfactory.  Macao, however, has several 24-hour boundary-crossing points, including the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Hengqin, and Qingmao.

In the short term, the Government should strive to implement 24-hour operation at the Lo Wu Control Point to reduce the time and cost for residents travelling between the two places.  In the long term, Hong Kong and Shenzhen may work together to explore the alignment of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Rail Link and the location of BCPs, as well as the feasibility of implementing the co-location arrangement in the newly constructed railway, so as to enable the early implementation of the cross-boundary railway connection scheme.  This can enhance the in-depth interaction between the two places and facilitate diversified mutual development.

Another “GBA Connectivity initiative” is to progressively promote mutual access between the Mainland and Hong Kong financial markets.  At present, financial cooperation between Hong Kong and the GBA cities is mainly conducted through a few specific channels.  In the future, the Mainland and Hong Kong should strive to develop a mode of financial cooperation with fully integrated rules and systems.  First, further expand the range of connectivity products between the two places.  In terms of breadth, it is possible to further expand the categories of stocks, funds, bonds and other products covered by the financial market connectivity.  In terms of depth, gradually bring insurance, spot commodities, options and green asset trading into the scope of connectivity.  Second, promote the cross-border use of RMB in a coordinated manner.  To explore expanding the range of RMB-denominated products in Hong Kong, enrich RMB financial instruments, and encourage the Mainland Governments and enterprises at all levels to issue RMB-denominated bonds in Hong Kong.  Third, propose to set up a GBA financial regulatory coordination body.  To meet regularly or irregularly for consultation and promote effective cooperation between Hong Kong and the GBA cities under different legal, tax, monetary and financial systems in an orderly manner from the regulatory level.  The Government should set up a task force to facilitate the alignment of financial market development so that financial institutions and enterprises in Hong Kong can implement the relevant policies as soon as they are announced.

In addition, Hong Kong and the GBA Mainland cities should strive to develop a cooperation mode of “industry plus finance” strategic partnership.  First, make full use of the advantages of the two places to explore overseas markets together.  Financial institutions in Hong Kong and industrial enterprises in GBA have concluded strategic alliances to jointly develop markets in Southeast Asia and other countries along the Belt and Road Initiative and participate in the construction and restructuring of the global industrial chain.  Second, focus on supporting key industrial parks in GBA.  Encourage quality enterprises to list and issue bonds in Hong Kong, explore the gradual expansion of the QFLP (Qualified Foreign Limited Partnership) pilot scheme, and guide Hong Kong investors to conduct equity, private equity and venture capital businesses in GBA.  Third, jointly promote the green development of GBA’s industries.  To leverage Hong Kong’s advantages in green finance and support the sustainable transformation and development of relevant enterprises in GBA based on the double carbon targets.

I am grateful to Ms YUNG Hoi-yan for proposing the motion, which has enabled us to discuss “Strengthening the joint development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area”.  I support the original motion and the amendments by the four Members.  I so submit.  Thank you, President.