Cross-border customs computers will soon be linked

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 September, 2003, 12:00am

Move to help combat smuggling and tax evasion, says official

The computer systems of Hong Kong and mainland customs will be linked next year as part of measures to implement the free-trade pact.

The link-up means the two customs departments will be able to access each other's information relating to imports and exports.

It also would be useful in combating smuggling and tax evasion, Vice-Minister of Commerce An Min said yesterday, when announcing the move.

Mr An said Hong Kong's customs checkpoints would introduce new Chinese computer software to adapt to the change.

Mr An also told a delegation of Hong Kong media in Beijing that he would visit the city on Monday to sign the six annexes to the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa).

A copy of the trade agreement will then be submitted to the World Trade Organisation for reference. A joint steering committee will be set up to monitor the implementation of Cepa.

Included in the annexes will be the definition of Hong Kong goods, the procedure for companies and professionals in the city to enter the mainland market, as well as details of how trade and investments between the two sides would be carried out.

Mr An said some of the 273 products granted zero-tariff status under Cepa would be required to have 30 per cent of their value coming from the manufacturing process in Hong Kong.

Professional groups in Hong Kong would need to negotiate with their mainland counterparts on how to recognise each other's qualifications before being allowed to practise on the mainland.

Mr An said the central government took Cepa seriously and work on it was supervised by a steering group headed by Vice-Premier Wu Yi.

Steps were being made to ensure that regulations would be revised in time to ensure the implementation of Cepa in January.