YES, I AM A LAZY correspondent. The big news over the weekend was the signing of the closer economic partnership arrangement (Cepa) and, having earlier castigated it as a public relations show, this column should have provided some further commentary yesterday. But there is only so much that any person can absorb of self-congratulating press releases. Whoever did the translations of the announcements from Chinese to English got bored with it, too. Paragraph B of Annex 4, section 7, sub-section 2 (Entry requirements for Hong Kong services suppliers) was identical to paragraph A. Someone fell asleep. I am not surprised. However, let us divide the trade concessions this agreement hails into the three parts in which the press releases split them - goods, services and trade facilitation. Trade in goods is easily put into perspective. We benefit here to the extent of the easing of tariffs on domestic exports to the mainland of goods for consumption in the mainland, in other words, excluding goods intended for outward processing in the mainland. Now look at the first bar chart, which puts this trade into perspective of our overall exports. You may not actually be able to see the bar representing it. I could just barely make it out on the bigger screen of my laptop but I cannot be sure in advance if it shows up in the final published version. Rest assured it does exist and it does bear a definite message for us. That message is a simple one. Forget the trade in goods benefits from Cepa. The key benefits can only lie in the concessions on services and here we can again ignore most of them as insignificant. It matters little that Hong Kong warehouse operators can have wholly owned warehouses in the mainland one year before World Trade Organisation requirements for a general opening of warehouse ownership. What counts is the financial trade. Can Hong Kong banks take yuan deposits from the public at interest rates those banks set and lend the money to the borrowers they choose at the rates they choose? No, they cannot. Can insurance brokers in Hong Kong sell insurance policies in the mainland in the currencies they choose at the premiums they choose for the risks they choose? Can stockbrokers registered in Hong Kong buy and sell securities for the general public in the mainland. No, they cannot. At least, they could not do anything of the sort so far and I found nothing in Cepa to say they can do so now. That documentation is notably short on descriptions of real change in access to services markets in the mainland, as short on talk of real achievement as it is long on talk of big achievement. It is the finance sector that matters above all. This is where Hong Kong has its edge and this is where we could see real benefit. But of course little can yet change. The mainland has a closed capital account, end of story. As to trade facilitation, Cepa is big on pledges to strengthen co-operation, explore feasibility, enhance efficiency, support policy, promote jointly and organise visits and exchanges. Wonderful. This and an Octopus card will get you a ride on the bus. Meanwhile, may I ask whether anything has been done to dissolve certain cosy cross-border cartels such as the one that controls cross-border vehicle licences and significantly adds to the cost of shipping goods from the mainland through Hong Kong? Reform here would constitute real trade facilitation but I know I ask in vain. What has happened here is that we needed a special show for Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Hong Kong for the July 1 holiday and all the stops were pulled out to make sure the show was provided. It was a good show. It ends when he leaves. The Cepa signing has done all that could really be expected of it.