China unveiled a plan Thursday allowing cross-trading between Hong Kong and Shanghai's stock markets in the latest move by mainland leaders to open up the country's capital markets and promote the yuan as an international unit.
The China Securities Regulatory Commission said in a joint statement with the Securities & Futures Commission of Hong Kong the trial will begin within six months and enable dealers to invest in designated shares.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at the Boao Forum for Asia that the plan "will enable us to expand market access, foster a better business environment to unleash greater dividends of reform, spark social creativity and stabilise market expectations".
He added: "We will carry out a new round of opening-up at a high level."
Plans for a similar tie-up in 2007 sparked a surge in share prices in both cities but they were eventually scrapped as the global financial crisis unfolded.
Under the scheme announced Thursday mainland investors will be able to trade up to 13 billion yuan daily in Hong Kong stocks, while Hong Kong dealers can buy and sell up to 10.5 billion yuan ($1.69 billion) a day, according to the statement.
Market-watchers said the deal would provide a much-needed boost to the Shanghai stock market, which was one of the world’s worst performers last year as the Chinese economy shows signs of slowing.
It can also provide a new investment channel for Chinese investors, they said.
"The trial programme will help domestically listed, blue-chip stocks restore their valuations and increase overall market activity," Zheshang Securities analyst Zhang Yanbing told AFP.
Peter Wong, deputy chairman of HSBC bank, said in a statement: "The landmark agreement gives global investors greater access to China's extraordinary growth story, and allows Chinese savers to diversify their holdings.
"This is further confirmation of China's commitment to financial reform, and reaffirms Hong Kong's role as the fulcrum of China’s broader economic integration with the global economy," he said.
And Hong Kong Exchange chairman CK Chow said: "The programme is not only a major breakthrough for the opening up of China's capital markets but also a great milestone for the development of Hong Kong as an international financial centre.
"Hong Kong will again act as a bridge connecting the Chinese economy and the rest of the world."