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Seizing our opportunities

It has been 15 years since we were reunited with our country. During this time Hong Kong has forged closer ties with the Mainland, especially in trade, financial services and professional services.

With the signing of the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) in 2003, the Mainland has further opened its doors to Hong Kong businesses and strengthened mutual co-operation. Since then, further measures to open up the Mainland market have been introduced under CEPA each year.

In the "Outline of the 12th Five-Year Plan for the National Economic and Social Development of the People's Republic of China" promulgated in March last year, a chapter is dedicated to Hong Kong and Macao. This chapter not only highlights the significant functions Hong Kong may perform in the national development strategy, but also emphasises the support Hong Kong can expect to receive from the Central Government in various spheres. During his visit to Hong Kong last August, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang also announced a series of initiatives to support Hong Kong's social and economic development. These are commonly known as "the 36 favourable measures".

It is clear that Hong Kong and the Mainland's respective advantages are complementary. Greater economic co-operation and integration is of benefit to both places. The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (LOCPG) has played a pivotal role in strengthening communication and co-ordination between Hong Kong and the Mainland.

During the course of the election campaign, I took the opportunity to learn more about the operation and challenges of different trades. The day after the election, I visited the LOCPG to express the concerns and views about the agreements mentioned above on behalf of these trades, and requested the LOCPG to relay them to the relevant Mainland authorities. In the week that followed, I met with members from the financial services, the trade and industry sector and the professional services to exchange views on ways to make the most of the measures and provisions set out in these agreements.

Over the past month or so, we have had further exchanges with Mainland authorities on the views expressed by various sectors through the LOCPG. Yesterday, I visited the LOCPG a second time to have more in-depth discussion on and preparation for the mutual development of Hong Kong and the Mainland next year.

CEPA, the 12th Five-Year Plan and "the 36 favourable measures" are all instruments of substance. They are by nature complex and plenty of scrutiny is required to make the most of them. It is in the interest of the entire community to seize the opportunities they offer.

May 16, 2012