Hong Kong is expected to reap further benefits from Cepa in the second half of 2005 as more mainland companies finalise plans to set up or expand their presence in the city, says InvestHK director-general Mike Rowse. 'I would not be surprised if companies from the mainland make up more than 20 per cent, or even over 25 per cent, of our total number of completed projects,' Mr Rowse said. It usually took 12 to 18 months for such investment plans to materialise. Last year, the government's investment promotion arm assisted 35 mainland firms to invest in Hong Kong, or just more than 17 per cent of the year's 205 investment projects. This is double the number of 17 mainland companies which invested in Hong Kong in 2003. InvestHK said there were no projects involving mainland companies in 2000 and 2001. 'I will step up visits to the mainland this year,' Mr Rowse said. A fifth InvestHK team, dedicated to assisting investors from the mainland, has been set up. The other four teams were restructured, with the team charged with Beijing and Tianjin expanding its reach to cover Hebei and Shandong . Overall, InvestHK is aiming for 220 investment projects this year. This is not expected to be a difficult target to reach given that the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement was cited by 45 foreign companies last year as a factor in the decision to invest. Completed projects created 3,008 jobs and involved $4.66 billion of investment in 2004. Initial indications by the foreign companies pointed to the creation of a further 4,600 jobs over the next two years, Mr Rowse said. InvestHK's year-on-year performance in 2002 worsened with the number of foreign-owned regional offices in Hong Kong falling by 122 to 2,171.