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Tariffs Dropped on Taiwan's Vegetables and Seafood
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Chinese mainland consumers will soon see not only fruits but also more vegetables and seafood from Taiwan in the supermarkets as the central government gives island products greater access.


Beijing will remove tariffs from 18 categories of agricultural products from Taiwan, Wang Xinpei, the spokesperson of the commerce ministry, announced on Friday. The change takes effect on March 20.


The products covered include 11 varieties of vegetables and eight varieties of seafood with simpler quarantine measures.


It marks a new move to strengthen the cross-Straits agricultural exchanges and benefits Taiwan's farmers, Wang said.


"In order to achieve this goal, we have held consultations and communications on the technical issues involved with non-governmental organizations in Taiwan," he said.


Meanwhile, Beijing pledged to continue promoting the sale of Taiwan food on the mainland.


The central government has adopted zero-tariff treatment on 15 categories of fruit from Taiwan since April 2005.


Such measures were taken despite disapproval of cross-Straits agricultural exchanges from Taiwan's "pro-independence" Democratic Progressive Party's administration.


Last year, six experimental zones for cross-Straits agricultural exchanges were established in coastal provinces on the mainland and at least four farms for Taiwan's farmers to boost two-way economic ties.


The two kinds of exchanges had attracted some 4,500 agricultural enterprises from Taiwan by the end of last October. Investment in these areas hit US$5 billion, accounting for nearly 80 percent of the total investment on the mainland made by Taiwan's agricultural firms.


Boosted by such measures, the two-way trade exceeded US$100 billion for the first time in 2006. The mainland is now the largest trade partner of Taiwan and Taiwan the seventh largest on the mainland.


So far, mainland trade with Taiwan is largely concentrated in the coastal regions. Eastern China provinces and municipalities posted US$104.7 billion in trade with Taiwan last year, accounting for more than 97 percent of the total.


(China Daily March 17, 2007)


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