Hong Kong's integration into the motherland's overall development has proceeded well since 1997, as the Chinese mainland's economic and trade exchanges with Hong Kong have deepened over the past 25 years, according to the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) on Thursday.
The city's integration into the country's national development allows for it to become an important participant in domestic circulation and a facilitator of the country's domestic and international circulations under the "dual circulation" strategy, MOFCOM spokesperson Shu Jueting told reporters.
Over the past 25 years since the 1997 return to the motherland, the Chinese central government has set up and improved cooperation mechanisms in the economic and trade spheres with the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), pushing for bilateral alignment in rules and regimes, Shu said.
Through the signing of the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), among other agreements, the mainland has fully liberalized merchandise trade with Hong Kong and basically achieved liberalization in the services trade with Hong Kong, she said, adding that the two sides have cooperated in facilitating trade and investment.
The Chinese mainland's trade with Hong Kong soared from $50.77 billion in 1997 to $360.33 billion in 2021, a surge of 6.1 times with an average annual growth of 8.5 percent.
By the end of 2021, the mainland had attracted over $1.4 trillion in cumulative investment from Hong Kong, accounting for 57.6 percent of the mainland's total attraction of overseas investments. Meanwhile, the mainland's non-financial direct investment in Hong Kong has reached $800 billion, making up 53.2 percent of the mainland's total non-financial outbound direct investment, MOFCOM data showed.
Also, the ministry has been pushing for the building of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and supported the Hong Kong SAR in joining the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the spokesperson said.
Since 2013, Hong Kong and mainland-based companies have joined hands to head for BRI economies for investment negotiations, facilitating the signing of more than 70 letters of intent for cooperation. The commerce ministry and the HKSAR government also signed a memorandum of understanding via video at the 2021 Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong on enhancing exchanges and cooperation in fostering high quality development and trade cooperation zones.
On top of that, the ministry will work with relevant departments to improve the supply mechanism for Hong Kong, ensure stable supplies and the quality and security of fresh farm produce shipments to the city, improve local residents' livelihood and safeguard Hong Kong's social stability, Shu said.