Taiwan's top envoy for handling ties with the mainland yesterday called on Guangdong to implement Beijing's recent pledge to provide loans to Taiwanese businesses. In an open-door meeting with Guangdong vice-governor Wan Qingliang, Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), stressed again that timely loans were crucial to the enterprises' survival. He also sought 'equal treatment' of Taiwanese businesses on the mainland, urging the authorities to lift bans on the island's investments in the service sector. Such a move would help Taiwanese exporters, suffering from falling demand, to become service providers, he said. Beijing pledged 130 billion yuan (HK$147.5 billion) in loans late last month to Taiwanese businesses operating on the mainland, as part of an economic co-operation package to help the island weather the global financial crisis. The loans were one of 10 measures announced at the end of a two-day cross-strait economic forum. Under the measures, mainland banks will make available the 130 billion yuan in new loans to Taiwanese firms over the next three years. 'Taiwanese businesses need help badly,' said Mr Chiang. 'Credit lines are what keep them afloat when overseas orders shrink. The problem now is how to implement Beijing's plan. We hope local government will provide assistance.' He suggested recent tax records could guide lenders in making loans. Mr Chiang was on the third day of his visit to Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guangzhou and Nanjing to seek support for the island's enterprises. The year ahead, he said, would be very difficult for Taiwanese businesses because the largest export markets - US and Europe - were badly hit by the financial crisis. Mr Chiang urged 'national treatment' for the island's businesses, saying the SEF would compile a list of sectors, many in services, that do not accept Taiwanese investment. He also asked the vice-governor to consider ways to lower business costs, such as cutting taxes, relaxing the unpopular labour law, increasing export tax rebates and giving cash subsidies to retrain workers. Mr Wan also stressed that the province's determination to get rid of low-end and resources-intensive manufacturers had been exaggerated, as had been the extent of factory closures. About 22,600 Taiwanese businesses operated in Guangdong, Mr Wan said. He did not disclose how many of them had folded.