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Hong Kong unveils action agenda

An action agenda for Hong Kong, drawn up by specialist focus groups in response to the publication of China's 11th Five-Year Plan in September last year, was presented by the Special Administrative Region’s (SAR) chief executive Donald Tsang on 15 January 2007.

The agenda comprises four sections based upon the work of four focus groups: financial services; trade and business; maritime, logistics and infrastructure; and professional services, information and technology, and tourism.

“When economic strategies were formulated in the past,” said Tsang, “it was a usual practice for the government to deliberate and draw up specific recommendations behind closed doors before presenting to individual industries for discussion. This is the first time that collective wisdom has been drawn from various industrial, commercial and professional sectors to map out a detailed action agenda and an implementation timetable as the blueprint for Hong Kong's economic development.”

The action agenda sets out 50 strategic recommendations and 207 specific measures to cover all major economic sectors. It outlines a blueprint and sets a direction, but also lists a detailed schedule of division of labour and a timetable to enable implementation by the government, public corporations, industrial and commercial sectors, professionals and the community.

The recommendations by the financial services group are understood to include: increasing use of the yuan; increasing the SAR's involvement in financial services on the mainland; opening more channels to improve the outward mobility of mainland investors and fund-raisers; and allowing financial instruments issued in Hong Kong to be marketed on the mainland.

The recommendations of the professional services group included the establishment of “greater China law firms” whose members would be able to practice simultaneously on the mainland and in Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong's strengths lie in services sectors like finance, logistics, IT, trade, shipping and tourism. Our direction is to consolidate these strengths and strive for the very best,” said Tsang. “We did well in the past and we must do even better in the future. Competition comes not only from other cities within the region but also from ourselves. As I said in the Economic Summit on 11 September last year, the question now is not "what" we have to do, but "how" to put the consensus into practice.

'It was against this background that the Economic Summit was called to start the studies. Under the "One Country, Two Systems" principle, the country has highlighted Hong Kong's role and the direction of our economic development in the 11th Five-Year Plan, that is to develop financial, logistics, tourism and IT industries and to preserve our status as an international financial, trade and shipping centre. The four focus groups today submit their report and the action agenda, systematically recommending a series of measures to strengthen Hong Kong's status as an economic centre.

“These recommendations are not solely about how Hong Kong can continue to strive for the best and keep our momentum in economic development amidst fierce global competition. More importantly, the targets and initiatives contained in the action agenda state clearly how our professional services in finance, logistics and trade can respond to and support the country's rapid development,” Tsang added.

The SAR government is to adopt a three-pronged approach to follow up on the action agenda actively. Firstly, bureau secretaries are to study the recommendations and draw up polices and implementation plans. Secondly, the action agenda will be passed on to the next term of government as an important reference on economic strategy for the next five years. Finally, the SAR will submit the report and the action agenda to China’s Central Government.

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