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Officials expect free ride off ECFA

Liang Baohua, Secretary of the Jiangsu Communist Party Commission, plans to visit Taiwan in early November to arrange the signing of an agreement between Kunshan’s cross-Straits commerce and trade cooperation zone and Taiwan External Trade Development Council.

With the upcoming signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between Taiwan and Chinese mainland, Jiangsu province has tried to attract Taiwanese companies to invest in Kunshan .

“We are expecting Taiwanese companies to trade the products with low tariffs in the cross-Straits commerce and trade cooperation zone in the beginning,” said Zhang Guohua, vice Governor of Jiangsu province.

Zhang expressed the desire for Kunshan to be appointed as the leading pilot market once the Chinese mainland signs the ECFA with Taiwan. “Kunshan is actively building the first mainland trade platform for Taiwanese commodities. We are trying to become a pilot base for implementing the ECFA through negotiating with Taiwan's Strait Exchange Foundation and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits.”

He also revealed that detailed tariff policies and trade supervision measures are currently being thought out.

At present, there are other bottlenecks still to be solved if Taiwanese companies move into Kunshan. “Rent, land and tax rates are the biggest concerns of Taiwanese businessmen,” according to Su Laide, director of the Kunshan Taiwanese Business Federation.

Ren Xueyuan, Director of the managing committee of Huaqiao Economic Development Zone, agreed with Su, but said “these factors are not the most decisive for Taiwanese businessmen when they consider coming or not.”

A case in point was cited by Lin Wenjin, a Taiwanese general manager of Dahong Project Consultation Company, who is confident about Huaqiao’s future development. He invested in a McDonald’s flagship location at the Asia-Pacific Square of Kunshan’s Huaqiao International Service Business Park last year and has earned profits since it opened to the public.

“Efficient and careful services provided by the local government is the key to attracting Taiwanese businessmen,” said Lin, who has recommended ICP Electronics Inc, a global leader in the Unique Electronics Manufacturing Services industry, to set up a logistics center in Huaqiao.

The flexible policy is no doubt an attraction for Taiwanese companies. Lin is also planning to establish headquarters in Huaqiao for Littlebobdog, a children supplies chain store.

People from Huaqiao are trying their best to attract Taiwanese investments. But whether Jiangsu’s Kunshan is able to get a free ride off the ECFA is yet unclear.

By Paul

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