The Guangdong government is studying a concept that would see Hong Kong and Shenzhen become twin cities based on a US model in an attempt to further boost economic integration. George Yuen Kam-ho, the executive director of the Better Hong Kong Foundation, said if successful the idea would be extended to Macau and Zhuhai, and Guangzhou and Foshan. Mr Yuen said the idea - based on a similar relationship between New York and New Jersey - was floated by a senior mainland official several days ago. Stressing that the concept was still in a preliminary stage, he said the impression they got was that the central government hoped to minimise 'unhealthy competition' by creating twin cities in the Pearl River Delta. Mr Yuen said the concept of twin cities was a good idea because many Hong Kong people were now either working or living on the mainland. He said it would also enable the children of Hong Kong parents who lived in Shenzhen to travel to the special administrative region to study. He added that Guangdong authorities were improving their transport system to reduce travelling time between Hong Kong and Guangdong to an hour. Quoting Xiao Zhenyu, the director-general of the Bureau of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation of Guangzhou Municipality, Mr Yuen said the Pearl River Delta would be circled by a rail and highway network when work on the transport infrastructure in Guangzhou was completed. In a speech at the International Symposium on Guangzhou Harbour, Mr Xiao said: 'The Pearl River Delta, as one of China's most active economic development regions, is also one of the manufacturing centres and one of the goods distribution areas in the world. 'We have made good use of those advantages to speed up the implementation of our urban development strategy of 'exploitation in the south, optimisation in the north, extension in the east and association in the west'.' He added: 'We shall make good use of the Cepa [closer economic partnership arrangement] signed between the central government and the Hong Kong government, to develop our commerce and trade, tourism, intermediation, financial service market, to exploit new opportunities for developing a modern service market as well.' Cepa, signed last month is aimed at opening up the mainland's vast services and professional markets to Hong Kong talent. Under the free-trade agreement more than 270 products will be granted zero-tariff status when entering the mainland market from next January.