Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac has reacted coolly to his Hong Kong counterpart’s proposal to set up a tripartite platform involving Hong Kong, Macau and the mainland.
Responding to Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah’s suggestion on Wednesday that Hong Kong, Macau and the mainland should form a new economic and trade co-operation platform, Leong said that the local government should first consider how to better implement the favourable measures and policies the city already has been given by the central government.
The policy secretary also said that the local government should come up with more concrete measures for the better implementation of the Mainland and Macau Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) which would be more beneficial to the local economy.
Leong, a prominent businessman before becoming a policy secretary on December 20, made the remarks to reporters on the sidelines of the annual Chinese Year New reception hosted by the Macau Association of Banks in the China Bank Building.
When presenting his policy guidelines to the Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo) on Wednesday, Tsang said that apart from the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) between Hong Kong and the mainland, Hong Kong was also exploring a similar arrangement with Macau. Tsang also said that such an arrangement coupled with those already signed respectively by Hong Kong and Macau with the mainland should constitute a new economic and trade co-operation platform involving the three sides.
When asked by reporters about Tsang’s announcement, Leong merely said that he only heard about it on the news.
However, he was quick to add that Hong Kong and Macau already have good exchanges such as between both cities’ civil society organisations and the two governments.
“The Macau Special Administrative Region should first consider how to better implement the [preferential] measures and policies from the central government …and Macau should better use the opportunities brought about by the Guangdong Free Trade Zone and the recent agreement signed with Guangdong for a closer co-operation relationship,” Leong said.
The Guangdong Free Trade Zone, located in the Nansha New Area in Guangzhou, is scheduled to get off the ground next month.
Leong also said that governments from the three sides should jointly look at any ideas or concepts regarding regional co-operation and then work together on how to put them in to practice.