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Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA)

Measures relevant to IT Industry

1. Computer and related services (Implemented since 1 June 2016 in the Agreement on Trade in Services)

The Agreement on Trade in Services covers and consolidates commitments relating to liberalisation of trade in services provided in CEPA and its Supplements and also the Agreement between the Mainland and Hong Kong on Achieving Basic Liberalisation of Trade in Services in Guangdong.

Liberalisation Measures under Cross-border Services (Positive List)

Sectors or Sub-sectors

1. Business services

B. Computer and Related Services

  • Consultancy services related to the installation of computer hardware (CPC841)
  • Software implementation services (CPC842)
  • Data processing services (CPC843)
  • Database services (CPC844, except network operation services and value-added network services)
  • Other (CPC845+849)

Specific commitments

  • To allow Hong Kong service suppliers to provide cross-boundary database services in Qianhai and Hengqin on a pilot basis.
  • To allow contractual service providers employed by Hong Kong service suppliers, in the mode of movement of natural persons, to provide services under this sector or sub-sector in the Mainland.

Reserved Restrictive Measures under Commercial Presence (Negative List)

Sector: 1. Business services
Sub-sector: B. Computer and Related Services
  • Consultancy services related to the installation of computer hardware (CPC841)
  • Software implementation services (CPC842)
  • Data processing services (CPC843)
  • Database services (CPC844, except network operation services and value-added network services)
  • Other (CPC845+849)
Obligations concerned: National Treatment
Reserved Restrictive Measures: Commercial Presence
Apply national treatment.

Details of the Agreement on Trade in Services can be found in the relevant web page of Trade and Industry Department:

(https://www.tid.gov.hk/english/cepa/legaltext/cepa13_201812.html)

 

2. Individually owned stores that provide computer repair services, computer services and software services (Implemented since 1 June 2016 in the Agreement on Trade in Services)

Eligible Hong Kong permanent residents with Chinese citizenship are allowed to set up, in accordance with the relevant Mainland laws, regulations and administrative regulations, individually owned stores in all provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government in the Mainland without being subject to the approval procedures applicable to foreign investments, to provide computer repair services, computer services and software services (excluding franchising operation). There are no restrictions on the number of persons engaged in the operation and the business area of individually owned stores.

With effect from 1 June 2016, to allow Hong Kong residents to set up individually owned stores in all provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the Central Government in the Mainland. Scope of business includes: software development; information system integration services; information technology consulting services; data processing and storage services (only limited to business of offline data processing services); repair of computers and auxiliary equipment.

The identity authentication requirements on Hong Kong residents setting up, in accordance with the relevant Mainland laws, regulations and administrative regulations are lifted for individually owned stores with effect from 1 June 2016.

Details on the individually owned stores can be found in Trade and Industry Department (TID)'s CEPA web page:
(http://www.tid.gov.hk/english/cepa/tradeservices/ownedstores.html)

 

3. Qualification examinations for professionals and technicians, in particular for proficiency in computer technology and software (Implemented since 1 June 2016 in the Agreement on Trade in Services)

According to Liberalisation Measures under Cross-border Services (Positive List) of the Agreement on Trade in Services, eligible Hong Kong residents are allowed to take a wide range of qualification examinations for professionals and technicians in the Mainland, including the qualification examinations for proficiency in computer technology and software. An examination centre has been established in Hong Kong to facilitate Hong Kong IT professionals to take the Qualification Certificate of Computer and Software Technology Proficiency locally.

Information regarding the qualification examination can be found in the relevant web page of MIIT's China Electronic Information Application Education Center (Simplified Chinese version only):
(https://www.miiteec.org.cn/plus/view.php?aid=212)

Details on the arrangement of the qualification examination in Hong Kong can be found in the relevant web page of the Asian Pacific Education Centre:
(http://www.apec.org.hk)

Details of Examinations for Professional and Technical Qualification in the Agreement on Trade in Services can be found in the relevant web page of Trade and Industry Department:
(https://www.tid.gov.hk/english/cepa/tradeservices/pro_liberalization.html)

 

4. Mutual recognition of electronic signature certificates issued by Hong Kong and Guangdong (Implemented since 28 June 2017 in the Agreement on the Economic and Technical Cooperation)

Under the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, the Mainland and Hong Kong continued to promote electronic signature certificates that comply with the mutual recognition certificate policy to ensure the security and reliability of cross-border electronic transactions, in order to further strengthening cooperation in the area of electronic commerce.

Details can be found in “Mutual Recognition of Electronic Signature Certificates issued by Hong Kong and Guangdong” web page:
(https://www.ogcio.gov.hk/en/our_work/business/mainland/cepa/mr_ecert/index.html)

Details of the Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation can be found in the relevant web page of Trade and Industry Department:
(https://www.tid.gov.hk/english/cepa/legaltext/cepa15.html)

 

5. Measures on Telecommunications relevant to IT (Implemented since June 2016)

According to the "Circular on Related Issues of Hong Kong and Macao's Service Suppliers in Developing Telecommunications Business in the Mainland" (Circular of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology No. 222 - Jun 2016) (in Simplified Chinese only), when Hong Kong service suppliers (HKSS) set up joint ventures or wholly-owned enterprises providing the following telecommunications services within the Mainland, no restriction would be imposed on the proportion of Hong Kong capital in the shareholding:

  • Online data processing and transaction processing services (restricted to operating e-commerce business only);
  • Multi-party communications services within the Mainland ("Domestic multi-party communications services" under the "Telecommunications Services Classification Catalogue");
  • Store and forward services;
  • Call centre services;
  • Internet access services (restricted to provide Internet access services to end users);
  • Content services (restricted to application stores only).

According to CEPA, when Hong Kong service suppliers set up joint venture enterprises and provide the following telecommunications services within the Mainland, the proportion of Hong Kong capital in the shareholding should not exceed 50% :

  • Online data processing and transaction processing services (except operating e-commerce business);
  • Mainland IP based Virtual Private Network services ("Domestic IP based Virtual Private Network services" under the "Telecommunications Services Classification Catalogue");
  • Internet data centre services;
  • Internet access services (except for providing Internet access services to end users);
  • Content services (except application stores);
  • Content delivery network services;
  • Code and protocol conversion services.

Details can be found in the relevant web page of Trade and Industry Department:
(https://www.tid.gov.hk/english/cepa/tradeservices/tel_relevant.html)

 

Other Relevant Information about CEPA

You may access the CEPA web page of the Trade and Industry Department (TID) for other relevant information about CEPA.