Tue, May 03, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Queensland official in Taiwan to boost bilateral trade ties

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Queensland Treasurer and Minister for State Development and Trade Andrew Fraser, who is visiting Taiwan to strengthen bilateral trade, said yesterday he saw broad-based investment opportunities for local investors beyond the coal mining business.

Fraser said Queensland is back in business again although it is struggling to emerge from disastrous floods in December and January.

”The government is fully functional, although it will take some time for individual households to recover from the floods,” Fraser told the Taipei Times during an exclusive interview.

There is ample room for trade enhancement between the two sides as Taiwan is geographically small, but densely populated, while Queensland is huge, but thinly populated, Fraser said, adding that while Taiwan has few natural resources, Queensland is rich in mineral resources.

Taiwan is Queensland’s fifth largest export destination with strong demand for its agricultural produce, including sugar and beef.

Fraser, who arrived in Taiwan on Sunday, headed to southern Taiwan to visit China Steel Corp (中鋼) and state-run Taiwan Sugar Corp (Taisugar, 台糖) in the hope of persuading the nation’s biggest steelmaker and sugar provider to increase their investment in Queensland.

“China Steel indicated willingness to assess coal mining business expansion there, while Taisugar agreed to evaluate sugar cane production,” Fraser said.

He declined to elaborate.

The treasurer is scheduled to meet with central bank officials today in the hope the monetary policymaker, which manages the four-biggest foreign exchange reserves in the world, would consider raising its holdings in Queensland State government debt. Fraser refused to give numbers on the central bank’s current stake or the hoped-for increase.

Queensland needs A$5.6 billion (NT$175 billion) to repair infrastructure damaged by the floods, the worst in more than a century, according to government estimates.

The disaster dealt a serious blow to the state’s economy this year, but reconstruction efforts will boost domestic demand and bring unemployment down to pre-flood levels next year, Fraser said.

In the decade before the floods, Queensland recorded average economic growth of 4.75 percent, higher than the average national growth rate of 3.5 percent during the same period.

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