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New Policies to Boost Cross-Straits Agricultural Cooperation
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A series of new policies aimed at boosting agricultural cooperation across the Taiwan Straits were announced at a cross-Straits agricultural forum on Tuesday.

The policies were announced by Chen Yunlin, director of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee at the one-day forum, held in Boao in the southernmost island province of Hainan.

The forum was jointly hosted by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the main Taiwan opposition party, the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT).

The policies encourage Taiwan-based agricultural organizations, enterprises and farmers to set up agricultural development zones and cooperate with their counterparts on the Chinese mainland.

Chinese laws and regulations allow Taiwan farmers to establish private businesses in agricultural development zones on the Chinese mainland, the policies state.

Fiscal support will be given to infrastructure construction of agricultural cooperation and development zones.

A number of approved agricultural cooperation zones in Sichuan and Jiangsu provinces and in the municipalities of Chongqing and Shanghai are already being brought into operation, according to the policies.

Farm products fairs and sales promotion programs are highly encouraged, and an undertaking has been made to provide better quarantine and customs services.

The other major points of the policies are as follows:

-- In addition to east China's Fujian Province, agriculture products from Taiwan will be allowed to enter the mainland market in Shantou, south China's Guangdong Province.

-- Agricultural and business affairs authorities on the Chinese mainland will set up websites featuring a consultation service for Taiwanese investors.

-- Applications for the import of seeds and legal trade on wild plants and animals will be simplified.

-- Local governments across the Chinese mainland will provide a fast and open transportation service for Taiwanese agricultural products.

-- Those found pirating registered trademarks of Taiwan agricultural products, including fruit, will be punished.

"After our extensive contacts with Taiwan farmers, we feel it is both important and pressing to enhance cross-straits cooperation in the agricultural sector," said Lien Chan, Honorary Chairman of the KMT.

It is therefore "of great significance" for experts, scholars and agricultural proprietors from both sides of the Taiwan Straits to discuss problems confronting their farmers and prospects for cooperation, Lien added.

He said he believed the forum would "turn over a new page" for cross-straits cooperation.

The "three direct links", Lien Chan said, will help both sides sharpen their competitive edge in the agricultural sector. "Most shipments between the mainland and Taiwan have to go through Hong Kong, Macao or other regions. It takes longer and costs more and therefore impairs our competitiveness."

The mainland has been urging an early realization of "three direct links" of trade, mail and transport across the Straits since 1979.

Cross-straits trade of agricultural products was valued at US$421 million by the end of 2004 and warmer ties in the recent two or three years have spurred an influx of Taiwan farm produce into the mainland market.

To date, the mainland has granted market access to 22 categories of Taiwan fruits and adopted zero-tariff policies on 15 of them. It has also exempted tariffs on 11 categories of vegetables and eight kinds of aquatic products.

(Xinhua News Agency October 18, 2006)

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