The entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) of both the People's Republic of China and the Chinese Taipei in the name of "Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Jinmen and Mazu" has put them under the same trade rules, making it inevitable for the two sides of the Taiwan Straits to find out better ways to deal with each other and work for common development.
This is a consensus among the delegates attending the ongoing annual sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The investment environment of China's mainland is to improve markedly after the WTO accession, with its laws and regulations adapt to international practice and the tariffs cut, resulting in bigger market shares of investors from overseas and Taiwan and more opportunities for them, said Xiao Zhuoji, a CPPCC National Committee member and a professor at Beijing University.
Lin Yifu, who was born in Taiwan and is now director of Beijing University's China economic research center, is optimistic about the prospect of the cross-straits cooperation in agriculture. "The cost of rural labor is cheaper in the mainland, while Taiwan has advanced technology and good breeds and a sound market system. Chinese farm products are expected to be sold well around the world, if the two sides join hands in agricultural development," he said.
Reports released by some Taiwan-based researchers show that the WTO entry of the two sides is good for their economic growth and the normalization of the cross-straits trade relations.
Experience over the past decade indicates that the economies of the two sides are moving to mutual benefit, coexistence and joint development step by step. By the end of October 2001, the cross-straits trade had amounted to over US$200 billion, with Taiwan enjoying a surplus of US$145 billion.
For years, Taiwan has been the fifth largest trade partner and second largest import market for the mainland, while the mainland has also become the second largest export market and the largest source of trade surplus.
Xiao believed that the cross-straits trade and economic exchanges have entered into a new stage of development upon their WTO entry. He urged the Taiwan authorities to lift the unreasonable restrictions on the direct links of trade, transport and mail service, so as to ensure smooth exchanges of funds, products and personnel across the straits and boost common prosperity of the two sides.
According to official statistics, some 50,000 Taiwan businesses have invested in the mainland. The WTO entry is expected to bring about a new wave of investment in the mainland by Taiwan businessmen.
A survey by Taiwan's "economic ministry" shows that after the WTO accession, the number of Taiwanese businesses who are expected to invest in the mainland will double that of those who plan to invest in the island province.
Lin said both sides are facing economic restructuring and upgrading, leaving vast space for cross-straits cooperation, since the economies of the two sides are mutually complementary. The mainland could learn Taiwan's experience during its economic development, he noted.
Deng Liping, an economics professor at Xiamen University, said,” economists of both sides pin quite high hopes on the prospects of hand-in-hand cooperation and mutual benefit, after the WTO entry."
(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2002)