Guangdong province is throwing open almost all areas of its service industry to Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Friday.
The 153 sub-sectors will be opened up under a free trade and services agreement the city and the national Ministry of Commerce signed Thursday.
They make up 95.6 percent of the 160 sub-sectors defined by World Trade Organization rules.
The agreement is the first of its kind using the WTO classification.
It is also the mainland’s first bilateral agreement to use a negative list — which specifies any restrictions on the freedom to operate of firms in some sub-sectors, rather than specifying the freedoms they enjoy, as would be done with a positive list.
It also adopts a fresh approach in treating Hong Kong firms in 58 sub-sectors exactly the same as domestic firms.
The accord is considered a more open agreement than the existing Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between the mainland and Hong Kong, which uses mainly a positive list.
The new agreement, which will take effect in March, also provides more support for small Hong Kong businesses to expand in Guangdong.
Terms of the accord are expected to be expanded eventually to other provinces nationwide.
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