Hu reassures island on agricultural links
Will Clem in Shanghai
President Hu Jintao has written to two Taiwanese agricultural associations in a bid to allay fears that cheap mainland produce will flood the island's agricultural markets after the Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement took effect on January 1.
The brief message, written in response to a Lunar New Year greeting the associations sent to Hu last month, welcomed investment by Taiwanese agricultural companies on the mainland and spoke in glowing terms of Taiwanese farmers' 'vast' opportunities in the market across the strait.
'I am delighted to learn that your development on the mainland is progressing smoothly and you are producing high-quality goods,' the Fujian Daily quoted Hu as writing.
'This is sufficient to prove that cross-strait agricultural co-operation has great potential and Taiwanese farmers have vast space to develop in the mainland market.'
It was Hu's first letter to Taiwanese civilian organisations since he assumed office, Taiwan's United Daily reported.
The two associations represent about 300 businesses investing in two agricultural development projects in southern Fujian's Zhangpu and Zhangping counties.
Hu visited the investment zones during the Lunar New Year last year, and the two associations sent him a report on January 20 to update him on their development since then.
Hu said he had a clear recollection of the visit, and had been impressed by the two groups' efforts to work with mainland compatriots to expand new markets, develop technology and preserve the 'long-established traditions of the Chinese people's agricultural culture'.
He encouraged the associations to spread the word among the Taiwanese farming community.
'Give my regards to our Taiwanese farming friends and welcome them to come to the mainland regularly, to visit family and friends, to inspect and study, or to develop businesses,' he wrote.
The ECFA is a quasi-free-trade agreement signed in June.
It grants Taiwanese greater access to the mainland's service sectors, including the insurance, financial services and consumer markets, and cuts import tariffs on more than 500 types of goods, including agricultural produce, cars and electronic products.
Taiwan agreed to cut tariffs on 267 items from the mainland.