Hengqin seeks 24-hour customs clearance

Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Issue 1161, Page 3
Word count: 736
Publised in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Central Government’s approval of round the clock immigration clearance at the Hengqin checkpoint is expected to be obtained by early 2011, the Macau Government spokesperson Alexis Tam Chon Weng disclosed yesterday.

The SAR and Hengqin officials are also in talks with the Chinese authorities concerning whether Macau car license plates will also be recognised on Hengqin Island, Tam added.

The Macau Government invited the lawmakers to inspect the Hengqin New Area including the Chinese Medical Technology Industrial Park site, the cultural and creative industry zone and the University of Macau’s new campus.

Niu Jing, director of the Administration Committee of the Zhuhai Hengqin New Area, told reporters after the site visit that Hengqin has already applied to the Central Government to open its border 24 hours a day and also let vehicles with only the Macau car license plates drive in Hengqin.

Niu said more details cannot yet be confirmed until the measures are approved, but added that “The main principle is to allow Macau and Mainland residents to enter and exit Hengqin conveniently”.

He pointed out that the proposal has already reached the General Administration of Customs, which had on several occasions come to Hengqin for research and inspection, and leaders from Guangdong and Zhuhai have also met a number of times with the Customs to discuss details.

“Overall speaking everyone is supporting the new clearance management system, so we believe that the policy will be announced in the near future,” he said.

Alexis Tam, who accompanied the 24 lawmakers on the site visit yesterday, disclosed that it is expected that the green light will be given by the Central Government at the end of this year or early 2011.

“Everything is ready right now except the permission from the Central Government,” Tam told reporters.

If approved, it also means that Macau vehicles without a Zhuhai-issued car license plate will be able to enter Hengqin without any restrictions.

Tax cuts proposed

The Chinese Medical Technology Industrial Park is to be developed jointly by the Guangdong and Macau Governments and in order to make it a success, Tam reiterated that having “convenient and fast immigration clearance” is the key.

“We’re also seeking to introduce some tax incentives so as to attract enterprises to invest in the industrial park,” he added.

The Government spokesperson said there are 48 ministries and commissions that will give opinions on the proposal and only six of them haven’t commented yet. “If they also agree to the proposal then we believe the cooperation framework agreement can be signed shortly,” he explained.

“It is certain that it [the 24-hour clearance] will be extended to other checkpoints in the future but there is no timetable yet as at this stage we have to focus on the Hengqin Port first,” he said.

Alexis Tam also disclosed that the Guangdong-Macau joint venture company which is responsible to develop, manage and run the Chinese Medical Technology Industrial Park is expected to be formed at the end of this year.

He explained that there is already an investment limited company in Hengqin and in order to establish a joint venture with it the SAR Government will need to form a public enterprise.

“Public enterprise regulations have already been completed and are expected to be passed before the end of this year, after that it and the Hengqin company can formally register to become a joint venture company,” he said.

In addition, Tam announced that “In a very short period of time the Ministry of Science and Technology will authorise a state key laboratory of traditional Chinese medicine where Macau can provide its own accreditations for Chinese medicine”.

President of the Legislative Assembly Lau Cheok Va described the site visit as “meaningful” and “necessary”.

He said development in the Hengqin New Area provides experience to deepen cooperation between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, adding that through establishing a closer tie with the Mainland, it can also benefit Macau in the long-term.

According to the legislature’s president, the Chinese medicine industrial park represents a “step forward” towards economic diversification in Macau, and the University of Macau’s new campus is essential to help cultivate outstanding talents for both Macau and the Mainland.

He said he hoped that the lawmakers will have more opportunities to visit Hengqin in the future.

Fong Chi Keong, Leonel Alves, Chan Chak Mo, Ung Choi Kun and Ho Sio Kam were absent from yesterday’s half-day trip.

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