Two economies must be integrated
By Dai Yan and Zhan Lisheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-15 09:26

The Chinese mainland and Taiwan should do more to integrate their economies to be better equipped for globalization and Taiwan should be more open during that process.

So said economists at the Cross-Straits Economic and Trade Forum on Friday.

If Taiwan authorities allow the market full rein and lift restrictions on firms' investments and trade with the mainland, the island's economy will be in a better position to benefit from the mainland's rapid development, said Sun Chen, a well-known Taiwan economist and former president of the National Taiwan University.

Against the background of globalization, entrepreneurs should have the right to choose where they want to work after looking at the advantages of both sides of the Straits, he said.

"The inconvenience created by the Taiwan authorities will hurt the expansion of Taiwan's companies in East Asia."

He added that some of the firms have been forced to give up their "parent" body in Taiwan and develop their mainland operations independently.

Hu An'gang, a professor at the mainland's Tsinghua University, said Taiwan was at a "crossroads, to participate in integration or to close its doors." He suggested the island "ride" on the mainland's economic surge and become more involved in globalization.

To work for integration, Gao Konglian, a professor from the Taiwan Chung Yuan Christian University, said Taiwan and the mainland should work towards setting up a common market.

The two sides can do that, he said, as they are close to each other, complement each other's economy and are important trade partners.

Taiwan's trade with the mainland was slower last year than trade growth between the mainland and Hong Kong and members of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

Gao attributed that to the closer economic partnership between the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong and the free trade pact between the mainland and ASEAN.

Meanwhile, as trade between the mainland and Taiwan heats up, tens of thousands of business persons from the island are due to attend the 99th Chinese Export Commodities Fair, which opens on Saturday in Guangzhou.

According to Xu Bing, deputy secretary-general of the event, there are expected to be as many as 12,000 buyers from Taiwan during the 15-day fair, more than in the 98th fair in October.

Official statistics indicate that trade between the mainland and Taiwan was worth US$14.71 billion in the first two months of this year, up 28 per cent from a year ago.

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