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Possibilities for cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao

Possibilities for cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Possibilities for cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

Possibilities for cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao (2007-2013)

Document or Iniciative

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].

Summary

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).

Greater cooperation

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.

Related Acts

Joint Report to the European Parliament and the Council: Annual Report Hong Kong 2010 [COM(2011) 204 Final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Joint Report to the European Parliament and the Council: Annual Report Macao 2010 [COM(2011) 205 Final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Agreement with Hong Kong

Agreement with Hong Kong

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Agreement with Hong Kong

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Fight against fraud > Protecting the European Union’s financial interests

Agreement with Hong Kong

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 1999/400/EC of 11 May 1999 concerning the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and Hong Kong, China on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters.

Summary

The aim of this Agreement is to improve cooperation between the administrative authorities responsible for applying customs legislation *. In addition to providing for several types of cooperation, the Agreement contains a provision aimed at further developing and increasing customs cooperation by means of agreements on specific matters.

Customs cooperation

The parties undertake to develop customs cooperation by:

  • promoting effective coordination and channels of communication between their customs authorities to facilitate the secure and rapid exchange of information;
  • facilitating the movement of goods;
  • exchanging the information and expertise needed to improve customs procedures;
  • providing technical assistance to each other;
  • exchanging staff where this benefits both parties.

Mutual administrative assistance

Under the Agreement, two types of mutual administrative assistance are possible:

  • assistance on request: the requested authority * must furnish the applicant authority * with all relevant information to enable it to ensure that customs legislation is correctly applied. The information may relate to activities detected or planned which could be operations in breach of such legislation. It may also relate to the regularity of export and import procedures between the two countries.

The Agreement also provides for special surveillance in all suspect cases. Such surveillance may be applied to any natural or legal person, place, movement of goods or means of transport which is or may be linked or used to commit operations in breach of customs legislation.

  • spontaneous assistance: the parties may assist each other on their own initiative if they consider that to be necessary for the correct application of customs legislation, particularly if they receive information which could be of interest to the other party.

Formal aspects and exceptions to assistance

Requests must be made in writing, except in urgent cases where oral requests may be made, confirmed in writing thereafter. Requests must contain data on the applicant authority, the measure requested, the object of and the reason for the request, the legislation involved, the natural or legal persons involved and a summary of the relevant facts and of the enquiries already carried out.

The requested party may refuse to comply with a request if to do so would be likely to prejudice the sovereignty, public policy, security or other essential interests of one of the parties. The obligation to provide assistance may also be waived where to do so would violate an industrial, commercial or professional secret.

The Agreement contains confidentiality clauses in relation to the information supplied. A high level of protection is given to personal data.

The Agreement provides for the establishment of a Joint Customs Cooperation Committee which sees to the proper functioning of this Agreement and examines all issues arising from its application.

Key terms used in the act
  • Customs legislation: customs legislation includes any legal or regulatory provisions or any other binding legal instrument adopted by the European Community and Hong Kong governing the import, export and transit of goods and their placing under any other customs procedure, including measures of prohibition, restriction and control which fall under the competence of the customs authorities and other administrative authorities.
  • Requested authority: means the competent customs authority which receives a request for assistance.
  • Applicant authority: means the competent customs authority which makes a request for assistance.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 99/400/EC 11.5.1999 OJ L 151 of 18.6.1999