Beijing has rolled out a series of new measures to deepen the integration of Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau by encouraging more cross-border development in sectors such as insurance, health care, tourism and aviation.
The range of measures, which can be seen as seven major highlights, were announced by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on Thursday.
The move came just ahead of the third anniversary of the blueprint for the Greater Bay Area on February 18, a sign of the country’s eagerness to link the 11 cities in the development zone to form a vast economic powerhouse, according to analysts.
A key development is to establish an “insurance-connect scheme” to allow mainlanders who have bought insurance products in Hong Kong and Macau to more easily make claims.
It will include a pilot scheme that will allow mainlanders who go to public hospitals in Shenzhen to opt to use overseas imported drugs, while making health claims with insurers in Hong Kong and Macau.
A related measure is to allow the Shenzhen government to have the power to approve the medical providers in Hong Kong and Macau to operate in the southern Chinese city, while also supporting Shenzhen-based medical organisations to provide services in public hospitals in Hong Kong and Macau.
Selina Lau, chief executive of the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers, welcomed the move.
“Hong Kong insurers currently provide health insurance to more than 7 million people, paying HK$20 billion in medical claims per year. The HKFI will work with the mainland authorities to serve the needs of residents in the Greater Bay Area,” she said.
The measures are also aimed at supporting various types of 5G-related business development in Shenzhen. This includes telecoms operators in Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macau looking to develop more cross border products and to reduce the costs of cross border roaming.
The measures are also aimed at supporting the development of a number of yuan-denominated data trading exchange marketplaces to allow the trading of financial, medical and health care data across the Greater Bay Area, subject to sound regulation.
On the education front, the measures are aimed at relaxing rules to allow mainland companies or citizens to set up schools for the children of foreign residents who work in Shenzhen, making it easier for mainland enterprises to attract foreign talent.
While the border between Hong Kong and the mainland has not yet reopened due to Covid-19 concerns, the measures also aim to promote development of cross border aviation business, including the management of aviation management, leasing and insurance arrangements between Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen.
Cruise and yacht operators are also expected to benefit from measures that will introduce mutual recognition of qualification schemes for people who run these yachts and cruises, helping to boost boat tours within the waterways of the Greater Bay Area. The measures will include a plan that would allow operators to apply only once for a cross-border permit that would allow multiple transits within a six-month period.
“These seven major measures show that the country has continued to open up mainland markets to overseas investors,” said Robert Lee, chairman of the Hong Kong Securities Association, an industry body of local brokers and fund companies. “However, we have not yet seen a lot of measures related to the financial sectors and banking industry. We will likely see more measures announced in these areas in future.”
The full Greater Bay Area comprises Hong Kong, Macau, and nine provincial cities in Guangdong.