Two-way traffic across border benefits all, Cepa forum told Mainland securities firms and futures brokerages may soon be trading in Hong Kong under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, according to China Securities Regulatory Commission vice-chairman Zhuang Xinji. Mr Zhuang told a Cepa forum in Beijing that as many as two securities firms and six brokerages wanted to enter the Hong Kong market. Under the trade pact, mainland brokers can apply to set up branches in Hong Kong but Hong Kong futures brokers are limited to 49 per cent joint ventures on the mainland. Securities and Futures Commission executive director Alexa Lam confirmed that some mainland brokerages had expressed an interest in setting up in Hong Kong but had not yet received formal applications. Mr Zhuang said about 200 applicants from Hong Kong had passed the broker qualification exams to work in China, with 75 of them having secured broker licences on the mainland. 'The number showed that Cepa has enhanced cross-border business opportunities of the brokerage industry in Hong Kong and China,' he told the seminar held by the Hong Kong Securities Institute, the training institute which provides licensing examinations for brokers in Hong Kong. Under Cepa rules, Hong Kong and mainland-based brokers have been able to sit each others' exams since 2004 and to work across the border. Mr Zhuang said he believed that as mainland securities and futures markets continued to expand, there would be a greater opportunity for Hong Kong professionals to work in mainland markets. Institute chief executive Gary Cheung believes the number of Hong Kong brokers wanting to work in China would increase. 'A recent industry survey has shown China would need about 20,000 securities professionals in the next two years. This would provide job opportunities for local brokers in China,' Mr Cheung said. Mr Cheung also said 180 mainland professionals had passed the licensing examinations in Hong Kong but there were no figures to show how many had worked in Hong Kong. Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Frederick Ma Si-hang said the government and mainland authorities were negotiating to include more measures in the next round of Cepa to increase business opportunities for Hong Kong securities professionals and brokerage firms that wanted to crack the mainland market. Meanwhile, Mr Ma said there were 20 mainland companies issuing $65 billion worth of debt in Hong Kong. 'As more and more mainland companies gain a higher credit rating, it is likely that there will be more mainland firms considering issuing bonds in Hong Kong,' he said. 'We have a lot of international investors buying bonds here.'