Then Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and Vice-Minister of Commerce Gao Yan exchange documents during the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) Supplement X Signing Ceremony and 10th Anniversary Cocktail Reception at Central Government Offices in Tamar in 2013. (Edmond Tang / China Daily)
Hong Kong companies are enjoying an export boom in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, fueled by growing free trade in major products during the past 13 years.
More than 75 billion yuan (US$11 billion) worth of goods from the special administrative region have enjoyed zero tariffs since the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, or CEPA, was rolled out in 2004.
Up to 198 Hong Kong businesses have benefited from the deal, figures released by Shenzhen Customs showed.
Last year, the value of Hong Kong-imported goods was 5.91 billion yuan, which was seven times higher than the 860 million yuan figure in 2004, according to customs authorities.
The range of goods also expanded from 10 categories to 13, including chemical, textile, plastic products, food and optical instruments.
"More and more Hong Kong-produced goods are enjoying zero tariff entry because of CEPA," said Zheng Dongyang, the Shenzhen Office of Rules of Origin director at the General Administration of Customs.
"This has strengthened economic and trade cooperation between Shenzhen and Hong Kong as well as promoting Hong Kong growth," Zheng added.
Xu Qiaofen, deputy director of customs declaration at Shenzhen Vitasoy (Guangming) Foods and Beverage Co Ltd, pointed out that CEPA had changed the firm's business.
Since 2005, the Shenzhen distributor for Vitasoy International Holdings Ltd in Hong Kong has seen the Vitasoy brand expand across the city.
"Tariff rates for beverage products were as high as 35 percent before CEPA, which meant low profits," Xu said. "CEPA enabled us to reduce costs and become more competitive in Shenzhen."
Vitasoy has since become a big favorite with consumers in Shenzhen as sales of its drinks products continue to rise.
Xu confirmed that more than 11.4 million boxes of Vitasoy beverage products, worth approximately 437 million yuan, had been imported since business operations started in October 2005.
Zero tariffs have saved Vitasoy International 150 million yuan during that period.
"With the launch of CEPA, we were able to provide a wider range of quality products to mainland consumers in a convenient way," Xu said.
"It also helped ensure continued production at our Hong Kong factory, thereby ensuring stable employment," she added.