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Economic integration key to cross-Straits ties

Updated: 2015-03-27 07:37
By Li Zhenguang (China Daily)

Economic integration key to cross-Straits ties

Flags of participating nations at the the 2015 Bo'ao Forum for Asia. [Photot/CFP]

As its theme "Asia's New Future: Towards a Community of Common Destiny" indicates, the 2015 Bo'ao Forum for Asia is expected to focus on mutual interest and win-win cooperation of all Asian economies.

The possible meeting between the top leader Xi Jinping and Vincent Siew, honorary chairman of the Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation of Taiwan, at the 26-29 March forum has aroused much expectation about economic integration, which is crucial for the improvement of Taiwan residents' livelihoods as well as cross-Straits relations. How to deepen cooperation between enterprises and create more jobs for youths on both sides will constitute a major topic of discussion between Xi and Siew should the expected meeting come through.

Despite the challenges and the global economic problems, the Chinese mainland and Taiwan have made a host of notable achievements in economic integration over the past six years or so. Of the 21 agreements signed by the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and the Straits Exchange Foundation in Taiwan, the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement signaled the full normalization of cross-Straits trade ties. And the agreements on service trade and commodity trade (under negotiation) can help Taiwan further benefit from the mainland's economic rise and, more importantly, participate in the regional economic integration process.

On the trade front, Taiwan's exports to the mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region are said to have reached more than $150 billion last year, accounting for nearly 40 percent of its total off-island trade ($313.84 billion), of which less than $35 billion were with the United States.

Being a major destination of the mainland's investment ($334.63 million) and tourists (about 4 million) in 2014, Taiwan enjoyed a noticeable boost in its tourism, transportation, hotel and catering sectors despite its sagging economy in recent years. In other words, the economic environment in Taiwan would have been worse without the "influx" of visitors from the other side of Straits.

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