Timing not right for investors, official says Implementing the much-anticipated 'through train' scheme, which would allow mainland investors to invest directly in Hong Kong-listed stocks, could be difficult to pull off this year, a spokesman for the Guangdong government said yesterday. 'Given the current economic situation, it's relatively difficult to do it this year,' he said at a Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa) signing ceremony in Hong Kong. He added that while Guangdong would like to serve as the pilot province for financial-related measures, it would be up to the central government to decide whether the investment scheme would be tested there. His comments came about a week after Guangdong party boss Wang Yang said the province had asked the central government to take part in the scheme. Though the through train scheme has not yet been given a green light, Hong Kong and the central government yesterday signed the fifth supplement to Cepa, which further opens the mainland - particularly Guangdong - up to Hong Kong firms. The latest agreement introduces 29 liberalising measures for services in 17 industries, including two new ones - services incidental to mining, and related scientific and technical consulting services. These two were added because they had been included in a bilateral agreement signed earlier between Chile and the mainland, a government spokesman said. The number of services covered has expanded from 38 to 40, while 221 measures have been signed since Cepa was launched in 2003. The new pact will come into force on January 1. Of the 29 new measures, 17 of them focus on Guangdong-Hong Kong co-operation. Hong Kong has also signed eight other measures with the province for deepening economic and trade co-operation. 'The current Cepa package and the Guangdong pilot measures will offer new business opportunities on the mainland for Hong Kong businesses and service suppliers, making Hong Kong even more attractive to overseas investors,' Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said after witnessing Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and Vice-Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei sign the agreement. Medical and dental services is one key area that will be opened up to Hongkongers. Under the new deal, doctors will be allowed to set up wholly owned outpatient clinics in Guangdong with no total investment requirement. Qualified doctors can obtain the mainland's medical practitioner qualification certificates through accreditation. But Medical Association chairman Choi Kin said few local doctors were interested in working on the mainland. Despite its large population, the mainland already had keen competition for expatriate patients who could afford to pay more for medical services, he said. Hong Kong is also allowed to set up centres for Hong Kong residents to take the mainland's accounting examinations, and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants welcomed another measure exempting two more examination papers under the new phase of Cepa. But the institute said it hoped central authorities would allow Hong Kong accountants to work on the mainland without taking any mainland exams. Mainland-incorporated banks established by Hong Kong lenders can set up data centres in the city instead of on the mainland under the new round of Cepa. Seven lenders with mainland-incorporated subsidiaries will benefit from the exemption. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said the new Cepa provisions would provide flexibility to banks.