The largest home-appliance makers in China and Taiwan have forged a partnership to expand their cross-strait presence. In Hong Kong yesterday, Haier Group signed a non-exclusive agreement with Taipei-based Sampo Group to sell each other's home appliances, information-technology and telecommunications products, through the partner's sales networks. Even though the Qingdao-based firm carries out contract manufacturing for Taiwan companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and Compal Computer, only a few of its branded products have reached store shelves in Taiwan via indirect channels. Under the agreement, Haier products will be sold in Taiwan through Sampo's sales networks and vice versa. The agreement also paves the way for further co-operation between the two companies either through supplementing each other's original equipment manufacturing products, buying components from each other or in a possible joint venture. Haier president Yang Mianmian said: 'Once things are up and running, there might be a joint-venture sales company. It might be set up because once you're operating, you might need an entity to run things.' While both companies claimed the partnership was a win-win deal, Sampo has more to gain from the agreement. For Shenzhen-listed Haier, the alliance is in line with the group's strategy of finding partners to break into overseas markets in its quest to become a Fortune Global 500 company. The Sampo deal is the third Haier has sealed this year. Last month, the firm signed agreements to set up a joint venture with Sanyo Group to sell its refrigerators and washing machines in Japan, and with LG of South Korea to develop digital televisions. Haier chief executive Zhang Ruimin this month was quoted as saying Taiwan's home-appliance market was too small, though he admitted there was room for co-operation between Haier and Taiwanese companies to develop home appliances and IT products. For Taiwan-listed Sampo, which first approached Haier about co-operation in November, the benefits of teaming up with the world's sixth-largest maker of white goods are clearer, according to Forbes. Sampo chief executive H. C. Ho said the company had become Taiwan's leading home-appliance manufacturer in the past 40 years and it needed to raise its brand awareness on the mainland. Sampo plans to increase its turnover to US$3 billion within three years, from this year's expected turnover of US$1.4 billion, hopefully by breaking into the mainland market. Last month, Sampo and rival Taiwan appliance-maker Teco Electric & Engineering broke off a merger agreement, citing significant changes in the market. Sampo has four production lines in the mainland and vice-chairman Pierre Chen has indicated that the company will expand its facilities there.