Mon, Oct 23, 2006 - Page 3 News List

KMT claims banana deal inked with CCP

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) struck a deal at 2am yesterday for China to purchase 2,000 tonnes of Taiwanese bananas, which would help resolve the current market glut, KMT lawmakers said yesterday.

"[China] will buy 2,000 tonnes of bananas for more than NT$10 per kilogram, with the first batch of 300 tonnes to be sent to Shanghai and Tianjin via Hong Kong on Tuesday," Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), director of the KMT's policy coordination department, said at a press conference yesterday.

The Council of Agriculture (COA) has devised a plan to help ease the banana glut by paying farmers NT$3 per kilogram to dispose of their secondary bananas.

COA'S PLAN

The council's three-month plan calls for 1,000 tonnes of bananas a month to be disposed of.

But KMT member Chen Wu-hsiung (陳武雄), who is handling the deal with China, said he doubted the council's project would really benefit farmers.

"The government promised farmers in the 2004 presidential election that it would make unlimited purchases of bananas if the fruit's market price was 95 percent less than production costs, but now the council's project would place limits on both the buying price and amount," Chen said.

He said that the deal with China was signed in Xiamen, where a cross-strait forum on agriculture sponsored by the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was held last week.

The COA said there has been a 20 percent increase in banana production this year as farmers sought a repeat of last year's good prices.

Agriculture and Food Agency Director-General Tsai Ching-chiang (蔡精強) said the key to resolving the glut was to explore other export outlets, including Japan and Southeast Asian countries, since the domestic demand for bananas remains stable.

LEE CHIMES IN

Meanwhile, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said yesterday that it would be a good idea for the government to sign a contract with Beijing if China really wanted to buy bananas from Taiwan.

Lee said that he was not against the CCP-KMT deal, but that Beijing must specifically tell Taipei how much they wanted to buy and how much they would pay.

"They could buy the bananas this year, but they could also turn a blind eye to our problem next year," Lee said.

Commenting on Cabinet officials' recent campaign to promote bananas, including Premier Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) eating bananas in public, Lee said that it did not solve the problem.

Lee, who has a doctorate in agricultural economics, said he thought there was something wrong with the fruit marketing system and that the problem was compounded by overproduction.

Additional reporting by Ko Shu-ling

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