Opening to Chinese products inevitable: minister

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 - Page 1

The government will not remove all restrictions on 830 types of Chinese agricultural products, given the nation’s trade deficit with China, but the opening of the domestic market to some categories of Chinese agricultural products may be inevitable, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) said yesterday.

Chen made the remarks at a press conference in response to recent media reports that the government is considering lifting the restrictions on 830 types of agricultural products from China and allowing imports of Chinese agricultural raw materials for processing in the proposed Free Economic Demonstration Zones.

While the ban on imports of the 830 agricultural products remains, Chen said that during the next cross-strait trade negotiations China might ask Taiwan to open up its market further to Chinese products.

He added that if the nation’s agricultural product trade deficit with China drops, Beijing would inevitably ask Taiwan to lift the restrictions.

Asked how many categories of imports the government is willing to open up to China, Chen said: “We cannot say what categories we want and what categories we do not want during the negotiation process.”

The minister said he could not make public details of the negotiations at this time in the national interest.

Chen said that negotiations would be conducted based on three principles: protecting the interests of Taiwanese farmers, guaranteeing the sustainable development of the nation’s agriculture sector and adding value to Taiwan’s agriculture sector.

He added that the last principle was the most important.

Using pear scions as an example, Chen said that those imported from South Korea or Japan cost about NT$1,000 to NT$1,200 per kilogram, but Chinese pear scions only cost about NT$500 to NT$600 per kilogram.

The minister said the initial results of a study grafting the pear scions in Miaoli County had been successful, showing that importing agricultural products from China may not be such a bad thing for Taiwanese farmers.