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Limits on Taiwan small-scale trade to be lifted
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The central government plans to relax restrictions on small-scale trade between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan to boost economic and trade exchanges across the Taiwan Straits.

The policy will take effect next month in some pilot ports on the eastern and southern coast, Wang Xinpei, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, told a press briefing Thursday.

The regulation was jointly published by the Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs.

Small-scale trade, initiated in 1993, is the only type in the form of direct shipping between the two sides across the Taiwan Straits. It is supplementary to trade exchanges and plays an active role in communications between the two sides.

Small-scale trade constitutes a tiny part of cross-Straits trade, though no official figures are available.

Under the new policy, restrictions will be lifted on the tonnage of ships from Taiwan - now set at 100 tons - and the value of a single deal - now less than US$100,000, Wang said.

The first batch of pilot ports includes:

Shenjiamen in Zhoushan and Shipu in Ningbo, both in Zhejiang Province;

Mawei in Fuzhou and Shijinggang in Quanzhou, both in Fujian Province; and

Huizhou in Guangdong Province.

Wang said the commercial departments in Fujian, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces and some designated cities will be allowed to approve the business scope of mainland companies that conduct small-scale trade with Taiwan.

Previously, these businesses could get approval only from commercial departments authorized by the Ministry of Commerce.

Trade between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan stood at $66.17 billion in the first seven months of this year, up 12.6 percent from a year earlier, according to Ministry of Commerce statistics.

(China Daily September 28, 2007)

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