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Saturday, April 8, 2017, 01:35

CE to lead delegation to visit Greater Bay Area

By Willa Wu and Luis Liu

CE to lead delegation to visit Greater Bay Area
This file photo taken on Aug 18, 2004 shows a view of the skyline of Shenzhen (right), part of the "Shenzhen Special Economic Zone" across the border from Hong Kong. (AFP PHOTO / FILES / Samantha SIN)

HONG KONG - Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will lead a delegation of senior officials and business leaders on a three-day visit to cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in the middle of this month, the CE’s Office has announced.

This will be the first visit by the Hong Kong government to the development cluster after the State-level plan was released last month.

Leung envisions Hong Kong strengthening its role as a provider of professional services in the development of Greater Bay Area, establishing overseas connections to benefit all 11 cities in the region.

Services would include contract negotiation, contract management, project management and facilities management, Leung said.

This will be the first visit by the Hong Kong government to the development cluster after the State-level plan was released last month

Restricted time meant the delegation would visit six cities between April 19 to 21, mostly on the west bank of the Pearl River estuary – Guangzhou, Foshan, Zhaoqing, Jiangmen, Zhongshan and Zhuhai, the CE’s Office said.

Leung hoped the delegation would learn more about the cities’ latest infrastructure, town planning and innovation and technology developments.

They would also meet with the cities’ leaders, according to the CE’s Office.

The delegation will include Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, Secretary for Innovation and Technology Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung, Secretary for Development Eric Ma Siu-cheung and Commissioner for Belt and Road Yvonne Choi Ying-pik.

Non-official members of the Executive Council, members of the Commission on Strategic Development and the Economic Development Commission would also be included, the office said.

The State-level blueprint was laid out by Premier Li Keqiang when he delivered the Government Work Report to the National People’s Congress last month.

Li pledged to press ahead with the development of the Greater Bay Area for higher-level cross-boundary collaboration. The establishment of the area also served as one of the key strategies in the country’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The 56,500 square-kilometer Greater Bay Area comprises 11 cities – the Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions and the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing in Guangdong province.

The region has a population of 67.7 million and annual GDP $1.3 trillion (HK$10.1 trillion), according to official document.

Also on Friday Leung, in an opening speech at the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers Conference, described the Greater Bay Area – sited at the southern tip of China – as “a strategic point” on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, presenting ample opportunities to attract foreign investment.

Leung noted that Hong Kong’s advantages in professional services –infrastructure development, financial services, engineering, consultancy, accounting and law – had given the city an edge in servicing infrastructure developments – one of the five areas of connectivity under the Belt and Road.

Hong Kong could connect the area to the world in the development drive and the government would continue to sharpen such advantages, Leung said.

In two of the latest moves, the government last year established two training centers for railway and aviation professionals.

The MTR Academy, near Hung Hom Station in Kowloon, provides two-year advanced diploma courses in railway engineering and offers academic programs in rail signaling and communication in collaboration with the University of Birmingham. The Hong Kong International Aviation Academy was set up to nurture aviation management talents.

Leung said joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank had let Hong Kong provide more financing services which included project loans, bond issuance, treasury management and private equity investments.

Meanwhile, the establishment of the Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office under the Hong Kong Monetary Authority had given more support to companies investing in infrastructure projects under the Belt and Road.

Leung also encouraged more professionals to take advantage of the HK$200 million Professional Services Advancement Support Scheme, introduced in last year’s Policy Address, to support professionals in their exchange, cooperation and publicity activities targeting overseas markets.

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