The central government has announced 15 new steps – policies and measures – to support Macau’s role in the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA), the Macau Government Information Bureau (GCS) said in a statement on Thursday.
The steps were announced following Wednesday’s meeting of the leading group for the development of the GBA in Beijing. The meeting was headed by Vice Premier Han Zheng and attended by the chief executives of Hong Kong and Macau, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Fernando Chui Sai On.
According to the statement, Chui expressed his gratitude to the central government and other GBA cities, pledging that the Macau government will do its utmost to implement the 15 policies and measures.
The steps will speed up the GBA development and further improve convenience in terms of Macau residents working, studying or living in other GBA cities. According to the Macau Post Daily, the policies and measures will also encourage more frequent exchanges of people, goods and capital, as well as support professional services, in the GBA, the statement said.
The statement listed the 15 policies and measures in two categories:
I. Policies benefitting members of the public
1. Property purchases
Facilitating property purchases by Hong Kong and Macau residents in mainland cities within the GBA. Macau residents will be treated as local residents in purchasing properties in those mainland cities, without being required to provide evidence of their duration of residence, study or employment, and nor will they be required to meet certain conditions on the payment of individual income tax and social security.
Enabling the use of mobile electronic payment by Macau residents on the mainland. Means to reach this goal comprise the encouragement and support of the development of e-payment options by commercial banks and payment institutions, as well as China UnionPay and its network entities. Using existing e-wallet platforms developed by mainland-based companies, there would be greater support for qualified Macau operators of e-wallet platforms to enable mobile payments. The same would apply to those payment-clearing institutions – based outside the mainland – that fulfil the necessary requirements.
3. Children’s education
Ensuring that children of Hong Kong and Macau residents enjoy the same standard of education within the mainland cities of the GBA as that offered to children of mainland residents. This measure ensures children of Macau permanent residents enjoy public education services in pre-primary institutions, in accordance with regulations at their place of mainland residence within the GBA. It also supports the setting-up of special classes for children from Hong Kong and Macau. Children of Macau residents will be able to participate in the senior high school entrance examinations for admission to senior high school in the relevant mainland cities, under the applicable local rules. This will be applicable to children who have relocated with their parents.
4. Wealth management
The exploration of the establishment of a cross-border wealth management scheme. Mainland people residing in the GBA will be permitted to purchase wealth management products from banks based in either Hong Kong or Macau. Hong Kong and Macau residents will be supported if they wish to buy wealth management products in banks based in mainland cities within the GBA.
5. Travel facilitation
The facilitation of travel – by foreign nationals holding Hong Kong or Macau permanent resident ID cards (BIR) – to and from the Guangdong cities covered in the GBA. There will also be facilitation of a system whereby foreigners holding Hong Kong or Macau permanent resident ID cards will be able to stay or reside in any of the nine mainland cities in the GBA. They will additionally be able to apply to the relevant mainland authorities for a visa – or permission for residence – with a validity of between two and up to five years.
6. Medicines & medical instruments
The loosening of restrictions regarding the import of medicine and medical instruments to the nine mainland cities of the GBA. Designated medical institutions operating in the nine cities of Guangdong within the GBA are to be allowed to use medical instruments – where urgently needed – that have been marketed in Hong Kong and Macau and that are already in use in public hospitals in Hong Kong and in Macau. Such permission shall be granted by the Guangdong provincial government.
II. Policies & measures supporting professional services
7. Law firm partnerships
The loosening of restrictions regarding formation of partnership-based law firms. A regulation is to be cancelled that currently requires a Hong Kong or Macau law firm to inject not less than 30 percent in a partnership association with mainland-based law firms.
8. Recognition of qualifications
Further extension of the scope of mutual recognition of qualifications. This will include enabling architects and structural engineers who are members of relevant professional institutes in Hong Kong to be members of corresponding institutes on the mainland.
9. Supporting professionals
The expansion of coverage of supporting measures for Hong Kong and Macau professionals working on the mainland. Macau professionals in the fields of construction and engineering – who have professional qualifications that are either approved via the mutual recognition system or are based on examinations successfully completed on the mainland – already enjoy supporting measures if they carry out work in Guangdong, Guangxi or Fujian. The new policy enables such supporting measures to be extended to all places on the mainland.
10. Shenzhen-HK sci-tech zone
The building of a Shenzhen-Hong Kong cooperation zone for science and technology innovation. The central government supports such development and there will be further supporting policies to facilitate the flow of talent, capital, goods, and information.
The facilitation of customs clearance of imported animal-derived biomaterials. There will be further measures to facilitate customs clearance – via simplifying the vetting process and shortening the processing time – regarding the import of certain other biomaterials.
12. Human genetic resources
The relaxation of a limitation on the export of human genetic resources from the mainland to Hong Kong and Macau. Mainland branches of Hong Kong and Macau higher education institutes, scientific research institutes, and hospitals will be treated as mainland entities. Upon meeting specific requirements, they will be allowed to lodge applications for exporting human genetic resources to Hong Kong or Macau under a trial scheme. Such applications will have to be submitted by the Hong Kong or Macau governments, and the Ministry of Science and Technology will have to be notified.
13. Insurance supervision
The introduction of favourable policies on insurance supervision. When mainland insurance companies offer reinsurance to qualified Hong Kong and Macau insurance companies, a relatively flexible approach to credit requirements will be adopted.
14. Insurance assessment
The support of insurance-assessment institutions from Hong Kong and Macau in setting up business operations on the mainland. The new measure will remove the eligibility requirement – regarding the number of years of operating experience required – in order to enable relevant Macau institutions to set up their own business on the mainland.
15. Bond market
The support of the development of a bond market in Hong Kong and Macau. Certain requirements will be further relaxed, such as grading, the level of principal capital, and the ability to repay in relation to the establishment of special-purpose insurers by mainland insurers seeking to issue catastrophe bonds in Hong Kong and Macau.