Gates are open but doors remain closed for business exchanges between Hong Kong and the mainland.
So says leading think-tank the Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, which released a report containing recommendations to dismantle existing cross-border barriers to the services sector.
Even though the new Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement will provide a platform for professionals to gain preferential market access to the mainland, several issues remain that put a damper on business exchanges, it said.
"As China is a big market, there are still many problems in implementing policy decisions at the municipal level that need to be ironed out by local authorities," center chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk said yesterday.
He hopes the recommendations will prompt the creation of a favorable business environment that will further facilitate the penetration of Hong Kong's services sector into the Pearl River Delta region.
Service industries in the mainland often encounter obstacles such as complicated business registration processes, weak legal protection and irregular tax arrangements.
To remedy these problems, the center put forth a set of recommendations to open "doors" by providing more incentives for SAR entrepreneurs to invest in the region.
The report was drawn up with information obtained from in-depth interviews with 24 representatives from nine service industries, and peer-reviewed by mainland specialists.
A key recommendation calls on the Guangdong government to do away with time-consuming business registration processes by enacting a one-stop service for SAR enterprises.