Possibilities for cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao (2007-2013)
The Commission evaluates the relations between the European Union (EU) and the two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) of China, i.e. Hong Kong and Macao, with a view to improving and deepening their cooperation. This cooperation, which is planned in seven key areas, strengthens relations between the EU and China.
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 25 October 2006 entitled "The European Union, Hong Kong and Macao: possibilities for cooperation 2007-2013" [COM(2006) 648 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
Cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions (SARs) is based principally on economic, trade and financial actions.
Since the handover of Hong Kong and Macao to China, these two SARs have been governed by the "one country, two systems" principle. In effect, their governments possess a high degree of autonomy in trade, fiscal, financial and regulatory matters, as well as their own legal and market economy systems. They are also members of international bodies such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO).
The region of Hong Kong is a major maritime and air transportation hub in Asia. It is a major trading partner of the EU; thousands of European companies and citizens are established there. European diplomatic presence is represented there by a permanent office and a European chamber of commerce, in addition to the diplomatic and trade missions of Member States.
Cooperation between Hong Kong and the EU is based on a set of agreements on:
- trade, under the framework of WTO multilateral commitments;
- customs cooperation, specifically with the aim of combating fraud and piracy;
- readmission of persons residing without authorization.
However, cooperation must also progress in the areas of competition rules and intellectual property rights.
The EU is Macao’s third largest trading partner. The close links it retains with Portuguese culture also contribute to the strength of its cooperation relations with the EU.
The partners concluded a trade cooperation agreement in 1992, which acted as a framework for funding projects in different areas (training, tourism, European studies, services, law, etc.), as well as a readmission agreement for persons in 2002.
New areas for cooperation
The partners identify a set of priorities aimed at expanding their cooperation. The EU must also endeavour to participate in the actions of trilateral cooperation undertaken by Hong Kong, Macao and mainland China.
In the areas of trade and customs, there is a need to:
- improve the exchange of information and coordination on bilateral and multilateral trade;
- strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights, combat smuggling and make shipping more secure;
- develop exchanges of best practice on competition policy and public procurement;
- support businesses, and inform them of the possibilities to access markets, specifically to the benefit of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
- encourage university exchanges, in particular concerning training on business management.
The partners also need to give new impetus to their financial cooperation by developing dialogue and through regulatory convergence (investment funds, company law, etc.). In addition, the cooperation should contribute towards compliance with the principles of good fiscal governance in order to promote the business environment, growth and jobs.
Cooperation must also make progress with regard to immigration and university exchanges.
As regards transport, maritime security and regulation must be the subject of enhanced cooperation. Similarly, the partners share common interests on matters relating to legal certainty for air carriers and civil aviation.
Action must also be taken to improve the protection of health, food and product safety, and in particular to promote the implementation of rapid alert systems for foodstuffs and compliance with EU safety standards.
Effort must be made to promote environmental protection, particularly through combating air and water pollution, and reducing industrial emissions.