Leung Chun-ying urges government to smooth way for firms who want to open offices on the mainland An umbrella group of Hong Kong's professional bodies has urged the government to increase efforts to help the city's professionals open offices on the mainland to make the most of opportunities arising from a cross-border free-trade pact. Under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, Hong Kong's professionals, including architects, structural engineers and real estate valuators, are qualified to open offices in mainland cities after passing relevant qualification tests. But Exco convenor Leung Chun-ying, chairman of the Hong Kong Coalition of Professional Services, said professionals were still facing difficulties in opening offices north of the border more than three years after the implementation of Cepa. He said the biggest obstacles were the frequent changes to requirements for opening offices in mainland cities, adding that different professions had to deal with different ministries when making their applications. 'Under the current situation, the 10-member professional bodies of our coalition have to deal with 10 different mainland ministries,' he said. 'Doctors from Hong Kong have to deal with the Ministry of Health, while Hong Kong accountants have to approach the Ministry of Finance, and so on. 'In Hong Kong, we don't have a single government department to handle the problems facing our professionals when they explore business opportunities on the mainland.' Members of the coalition, which was founded in November 2001, are from the bodies for certified public accountants, architects, barristers, solicitors, dentists, engineers, landscape architects, doctors, planners and surveyors. Mr Leung said the central and Hong Kong governments and professional bodies needed to do more to smooth the way. At a ceremony marking its fifth anniversary today, the coalition, which has set up a working group to tackle the problems, will also launch a website ( www.cps.hk ) to give mainlanders and companies a better understanding of Hong Kong's professional bodies. Mr Leung also urged the Hong Kong government to help local professionals and firms to capture business opportunities on specific projects. He cited the example of foreign governments helping firms in their countries to win lucrative deals for selling aircraft to other countries, which created many opportunities for professionals in the respective countries. Mr Leung said that with the implementation of Cepa and the robust growth of the mainland economy, an increasing number of professionals were working across the border. He estimated that 10 per cent of Hong Kong's 60,000 qualified professionals worked on the mainland at some stage. 'On that basis, they bring HK$6 billion income to Hong Kong a year,' he said. 'Unlike domestic manufacturing products, which usually use raw materials, the income earned by our professionals who provide services for companies elsewhere is a 100 per cent net gain for Hong Kong.'