Responding to China's unilateral announcement yesterday that it will lift the tariff on Taiwanese fruits starting next month, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Joseph Wu (
China's preferential treatment of imported Taiwanese fruits -- expanding from 12 to 18 the types of Taiwanese fruit that can be imported, 15 of which would not be subject to tariffs -- was first decreed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (
While bilateral negotiations haven't been held, as China refuses to talk with the government, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce declared yesterday that the tariff-exemption policy will start from Aug. 1.
Wu made his response while attending a Cabinet discussion with more than 100 farmers from southern Taiwan, in Kaohsiung yesterday.
"In order to express our greatest sincerity, the government has issued a `certificate of authorization' to the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) today [yesterday]," Wu said.
TAITRA was commissioned by the Cabinet on June 13 to talk with its counterpart in China. Obtaining a "certificate of authorization" from the MAC means that the government has officially authorized TAITRA to conduct such talks.
"TAITRA will take the initiative to contact the Chinese government, to try to understand its intentions and policy. We hope to start negotiations with the Chinese government without delay, so that we can make proper arrangements about the problems surrounding the sale of Taiwanese fruits to China," Wu said.
Aside from urging the Chinese government to talk with TAITRA, Wu said that the announcement made by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce yesterday proved that the fruit issue has been part of China's tactic to create political divisions within Taiwan over the past months.
"[The Chinese government] brought up the idea in March, and now it says the idea can be implemented from next month. We should realize from this that the Chinese government has manipulated this issue for political reasons," Wu said.
There are many barriers to trade in China, such as high tariffs, high business taxes, slow customer services, lack of facilities with refrigeration equipment and so on, which are all factors hindering Taiwanese companies from exporting their fruit to China, Wu said, adding that "it's China's duty to improve and remove these barriers to trade."
Wu made an appeal to Beijing to start negotiations between TAITRA and the Cross-strait Economic and Trade Exchange Association (CETEA), an agency under China's Ministry of Commerce.
"We can only make an arrangement favorable to farmers and advance cross-strait exchanges in agriculture through negotiations between TAITRA and CETEA, and they must be negotiations held on a basis of equality," Wu said.
Lee Chiang-chuan (
The farmers attending yesterday's meeting agreed with the officials that the export of fruits have to be dealt with using the government's help.
"We know that the government didn't prevent farmers from exporting fruits to China, and we know there are lots of risks in heading to the Chinese market. However, we do need the government's strong assistance in tapping foreign markets," said a farmer who grows garlic in Fangshan Township (
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