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Taiwan fruit sale talks proceed
By Xing Zhigang (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-09 07:23

Mainland authorities and Taiwan's two opposition parties launched a new bid on Friday to expand the sale of Taiwanese agricultural products on the mainland.

Officials from six central government departments held talks with a Taiwanese delegation about implementing Beijing's policy to give tariff-free treatment to fruits grown in Taiwan.

Both sides discussed technical issues concerning the topic but signed no agreements.

Before the 12-member delegation left Taipei, leaders of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) warned against entering any agreements with the mainland.

Led by Tseng Yung-chuan, director of the Kuomintang's (KMT) central policy committee, the delegation, composed of "legislators" of KMT and the People First Party (PFP), arrived in Beijing on Thursday.

Mainland leaders decided in May to expand the import of Taiwanese fruits from 12 to 18 varieties and drop tariffs on 15 varieties after KMT Chairman Lien Chan's visit.

The move was considered part of Beijing's efforts to develop closer cross-Straits economic relations for the benefit of Taiwanese farmers, who have seen bad sales during the harvest season due to limited market demand on the island province.

But no substantial progress has been made on implementing the policy as Taiwanese authorities have been reluctant to authorize private bodies to negotiate with the mainland.

Chen Yunlin, minister of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, complimented the KMT and PFP for their hard work to push for a quick implementation of the economic incentive.

"As people's representatives, you are really doing something for the immediate interest of the Taiwanese public," he told the delegation at the Diaoyutai State Guest House.

He urged the visitors to make sure Taiwanese private industrial associations hold consultations on the fruit issue as soon as possible.

Tseng hailed the mainland policy as a goodwill gesture towards Taiwan, saying it will greatly benefit the welfare of Taiwanese farmers.

Through communications with mainland authorities, he added, the delegation hoped to know more about the mainland's convenience measures in customs, quarantine and transportation to facilitate the import of Taiwanese fruits.

Tseng proposed direct cargo charter flights to link Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai with Taiwanese cities to shorten delivery time.

(China Daily 07/09/2005 page2)

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