Sat, Dec 30, 2006 - Page 3 News List

MAC chairman points at currency exchange measures

By Jewel Huang and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday said the council will soon start to map out "feasible measures" for currency exchange between the Chinese yuan and the NT dollar in Taiwan following instructions from Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

Related governmental departments are working on drafting measures, Wu said.

He made the remarks yesterday in a report to the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus.

TSU Legislators Lo Chih-ming and Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said that any implementation of the exchange of the yuan in Taiwan would require a comprehensive evaluation by national security departments.

The policy's timing is complex and it is not the council that can decide it, said Wu, adding he told Su that if Chinese tourists were permitted to visit Taiwan, the council would allow them to bring about 20,000 yuan to Taiwan which could be a quota of the exchange for Chinese currency here when the exchange policy is opening.

Su, in a separate setting yesterday, stopped short of saying when the government would approve exchange services for the yuan.

"The relevant departments are making preparations and will soon make an announcement," Su said at the Cabinet's year-end news conference.

Last week, central bank governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) said "this is the best time" to allow the exchange of the yuan with the NT dollar, but noted that the MAC has the final say.

In recent years, Taiwan has allowed a small numbers of Chinese tourists into the nation and plans to loosen restrictions on Chinese tour groups in the near future.

Taiwan bans the use of the yuan. This forces Chinese tourists to bring US dollars to spend in Taiwan.

Many have urged the government to allow yuan-NT dollar exchanges so that they can take the yuan into China, instead of having to change NT dollars into US dollars to take to China to change into yuan.

In related news, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday reiterated the importance of loosening the investment cap for Taiwanese investing in China.

Ma told an academic conference yesterday afternoon that the government's policies for investment in China remain "too conservative" and are unable to meet the needs of global industrial development given that China has become the major export destination for Taiwanese products.

He added the policies do not conform to WTO principles or regulations, which allow free trade.

The nation should allow the financial industry to invest in China, establish an official cross-strait economic forum and build up a common market between the two nations, he said.

Ma said loosening investment policies was a key to the survival of small countries.

"Although China is a threat to us, it is also an opportunity for us," Ma said. "The key lies in whether we can maximize the opportunity and minimize the threat. This is what we have to work on together."

Additional reporting by Jimmy Chuang and DPA

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