Since the central government is advancing coordinated development of the Pearl River Delta with the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions with the aim of it becoming the world's leading bay area by GDP, few doubt the importance of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) in helping Hong Kong consolidate its status as a key global financial, shipping and trading center, and enhancing its overall competitiveness.
Not only is the Hong Kong section of the high-speed rail link a crucial element in the bid for a "one-hour travel zone" encompassing all the major cities around the Pearl River Delta. It is also significant as it will connect Hong Kong with the mainland's high-speed railway network, which in turn is envisioned as being part of a high-speed rail network that extends throughout the region and beyond, as part of the country's Belt and Road Initiative.
The agreement formally commences the three-step process to implement the arrangement that will allow officers from both sides to complete exit and entry clearance procedures for cross-boundary passengers at the same location.
This is an essential requirement if the Hong Kong section of the nation's high-speed rail network is to realise its full economic benefits and make the mega infrastructure facility worth the HK$84.4 billion (USD 14.66 billion) that was invested in it.
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