Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng has met a number of senior central government officials in Beijing to further strengthen cooperation between the mainland and Macao.
Ho is on a six-day working visit to the national capital until Monday.
According to several statements by the Macao Government Information Bureau (GCS) about the visit, which began on Wednesday, Ho met with central government officials Friday to discuss ways of advancing the development of the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone planned for Zhuhai’s Hengqin island near Macao.
The chief executive met with Public Security Vice-Minister Xu Ganlu, who heads the National Immigration Administration (NIA), to exchange views on a wide range of issues, including Macao’s effort to promote its economic diversification, and policies aiming to increase cross-border movement efficiency and tackling cross-border crime.
The GCS statement quoted Ho as saying that he looks forward to additional assistance from the National Immigration Administration, such as regarding policies to facilitate cross-border movement between Macao and Hengqin.
The statement quoted Xu as praising Macao for its dedication to safeguarding national and border checkpoint security.
Ho Friday also met with General Administration of Customs (GACC) Minister Ni Yuefeng who shared insights on the development of the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone initiative.
Ho said during the meeting that the zone was crucial to Macao’s future prospects, as the special administrative region faces a raft of challenges concerning its limited land resources (Macao’s current land area amounts to just about 33 square kilometres) and high cost of labour.
Ho pointed out that thanks to the zone, Macao enterprises would be able to take advantage not only of the land resources available in Hengqin to develop their businesses, but would also benefit from favourable customs clearance regulations, under an arrangement called “Opening the first line and controlling the second line.”
According to the statement, Ni supported the idea of setting-up a “separate management model” in Hengqin.
He was also quoted as saying that the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Maca0 Greater Bay Area (GBS) was a very important pat of the “dual circulation” economic policies laid out by President Xi Jinping.
According to state media reports, “dual circulation” refers to a new model of development in which “domestic and external demand complement each other.”
Ni also underlined the importance of the new Hengqin Port joint checkpoint for growing people-to-people exchanges between the mainland and Macao. The checkpoint is slated to open on Tuesday.
According to previous local government announcements, the new facilities will implement the so-called “joint inspection and one-time release” customs clearance systems.
Meanwhile, Ho Friday also met with State Taxation Administration Commissioner Wang Jun for talks about tax incentives and measures to support the development of the Guangdong-Macao Intensive Cooperation Zone initiative.
According to the statement, Ho noted that the State Taxation Administration planned to introduce tax incentive measures regarding personal income tax and business income tax for the zone. He said the measures would support encourage young entrepreneurs from Macau to explore business opportunities in the mainland.
Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong also attended the meeting with Wang.
He briefed the central government officials on the launch of a taxation academy in conjunction with a university in Portugal
On Thursday, Ho met with People’s Bank of China (PBOC) Governor Yi Gang and State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) Administrator Pan Gongsheng.
Yi said that the PBOC would study in detail how to support the development of Hengqin under President Xi’s vision for the island.
The island, officially known as Hengqin New Area, covers 106 square kilometres, three times the size of the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR).
Ho also brief Yi on Macao’s accumulated experience since late January with the novel coronavirus disease, pointing out that the announced resumption of the facilitated individual travel scheme for mainland tourists to visit Macao would help support the city’s economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his meeting with Water Resources Minister E Jingping, both discussed issues related to the construction of floodgates at Macao’s Inner Harbour area and flooding in the city’s low-lying areas during storm surges. Both also discussed the safety of raw water supplied by the mainland to Macao for the latter’s tap water.
On Wednesday, Ho met with Commerce Minister Zhong Shan to exchange views on how to push forward the development of the Guangdong-Macau Intensive Cooperation Zone.
According to a GCS statement, Ho and Zhong discussed how land resources in Hengqin could be used to provide Macao businesses with new space for the development of new products and to advance Macao’s traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) sector.
Zhong was quoted as saying that his ministry would promote innovative mechanisms for the development of Hengqin, in order to advance Macao’s economic diversification.
Zhong also said that the ministry would support the hosting of the next Ministerial Conference of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries in Macao once the COVID-19 pandemic was under control.
The ministerial conference was originally scheduled for July but was postponed sine die due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Last year’s conference had been postponed to this year because of the chief executive election campaign and other agenda issues at that time. The conference is supposed to be held in Macao every three years.
According to the statement, Zhong praised Macao for its effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, pointing out that the successful fight against the virus showed the chief executive’s leadership in promoting Macao’s advancement in line with President Xi’s directives.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
PHOTO © Government Information Bureau (GCS)