The Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) is an economic agreement between the government of Hong Kong and the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China. Signed on June 29, 2003, it is a free trade agreement that allows qualifying products, companies and residents of Hong Kong preferential access to the mainland Chinese market.



Hong Kong firms now have greater access to Guangdong and more freedom to operate there, under a new trade liberalisation agreement.

Hong Kong and Guangdong are still working to tear down more barriers to cross-border trade in services, leaders of the two governments said, as business chiefs bemoaned the long wait for details.

First brokers, now accountants. Its been 10 years since the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa) was introduced, but the mainland market seems to be as elusive as ever for Hong Kong professionals.

Beijing has endorsed the study of a Hong Kong government plan for the mutual recognition of fund products that would allow Hong Kong-domiciled funds to be sold on the mainland and vice versa.

From the very beginning, the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement was more than simply helping out Hong Kong's battered economy in the wake of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) and the Asian financial crisis.

Veteran solicitor Thomas So Shiu-tsung has a legal qualification from the mainland, but says he and fellow Hong Kong lawyers are nothing more than "second-class citizens" across the border.

The popular belief was that Hong Kong capital and professional expertise would help upgrade the neighbouring province's service and financial sectors, improve its industrial infrastructure and support manufacturing, keeping the Pearl River Delta at the forefront of the nation's economic reform.

Despite complicated procedures and high start-up costs, Dr Hubert Wong Chi-ho has no regrets about opening his pioneering clinic in Shenzhen.

It has been a steep learning curve for Hong Kong architects like Felix Li Kwok-hing, who has spent half his time working on the mainland since Hong Kong qualifications were recognised across the border.

Hong Kong's accountants no longer have to spend quite so long with their heads in books to qualify to work on the mainland. But Cepa has yet to help them get senior roles.

The sweeping changes in Causeway Bay are one of the most visible signs of the effects of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa), a free-trade agreement between the central government and Hong Kong signed a decade ago this month. The deal, agreed in the wake of the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak that left Hong Kong on its knees, was intended to pry open the expanding mainland market for Hong Kong businesses.

While questions are raised about the diminishing effectiveness of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, analysts do not expect the economic goodies from the mainland to dry up any time soon.