The Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) is a free trade agreement signed between the Mainland and Hong Kong in 2003. Adopting a building block approach, CEPA has continued to expand in content and scope over the years.
- On trade in goods, the Mainland has fully implemented zero tariff on imported goods of Hong Kong origin1. To deepen the liberalisation and facilitation of trade in goods between the two sides, the Agreement on Trade in Goods has included four dedicated Chapters on "Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation", "Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures", "Technical Barriers to Trade" and "Trade Facilitation Measures in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area".
- On trade in services, the two sides have basically achieved liberalisation. Hong Kong service suppliers can enjoy preferential access to the Mainland market in most service sectors. The preferential treatment of the liberalisation measures takes various forms, including allowing wholly-owned operations, relaxing equity share restrictions, reducing registered capital requirements, as well as relaxing restrictions over geographical location and business scope, etc. National treatment is accorded to Hong Kong service suppliers when they set up enterprises in the Mainland in 62 service sectors.
- Eligible Hong Kong professionals such as architects, structural engineers, lawyers, doctors etc., might acquire the corresponding Mainland's professional qualifications through mutual recognition or examinations. Besides, if such architects or structural engineers are engaged or employed by relevant enterprises in the Mainland, they are allowed to register for practice in designated provinces and cities and establish architectural design, structural engineering or other related firms or operate those firms in the form of partnership or association with their Mainland partners. Law firms in the form of association with Mainland partners can provide one-stop cross-border legal services, and share operating costs and profits with their Mainland partners.
- As to the legal profession, 11 partnership associations between Hong Kong and Mainland law firms have been set up in Guangdong Province, with 33 Hong Kong lawyers being seconded to the partnership associations. Hong Kong barristers and solicitors have also been retained as legal consultants by Guangdong law firms. The Ministry of Justice and the Department of Justice (DoJ) signed a record of meeting in January 2019, agreeing in principle to further the liberalisation measures relevant to partnership associations. Starting from March 2019, the geographical scope of setting up partnership associations by Hong Kong and Mainland law firms has been extended from Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai to the entire Mainland. Moreover, eligible Hong Kong permanent residents may sit the National Unified Legal Professional Qualification Examination (formerly known as the National Judicial Examination). Candidates who pass the examination will be granted a Certificate of Legal Professional Qualification. In 2018, a total of 108 Hong Kong residents passed the examination.
- On investment, Hong Kong investors can enjoy investment protection and facilitation in the Mainland.
- On economic and technical cooperation, the two sides have agreed to enhance cooperation in 22 areas to meet the development trends and needs of Hong Kong and the Mainland, and promote the Belt and Road Initiative as well as economic and trade cooperation for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, providing new directions for closer cooperation.
1 Not including those prohibited by the Mainland's rules and regulations and those prohibited as a result of the implementation of international treaties by the Mainland, as well as products that the Mainland has made special commitments in relevant international agreements.