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Discovering Xiamen
Special> China International Fair For Investment & Trade> Discovering Xiamen
UPDATED: August 10, 2009 NO. 35 SEP. 1, 2005
Economic Hub of Southeast China

Unlike manufacturing in machinery, textiles and electronics, there are special requirements relating to investment in agriculture. Xiamen is attracting increasing attention from Taiwan's agricultural investors owing to the city's climatic affinity with Taiwan. Owing to this and the city's preferential policies for them, Taiwan-funded agricultural enterprises have earned good returns. One such example is the Known-You Seed (China) Co. Ltd. established in 1989. Zhou Junsheng, its general manager, said the Xiamen-based company has representative offices in seven cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and its sales network covers the whole country. While Taiwan-funded agricultural enterprises make profits, they also bring in fine species and advanced technology to local farmers in Xiamen, said Zhou. Ten years ago, it was his company that introduced the popular cherry tomato to the mainland.

Taiwan links

"Xiamen has a special affection for Taiwan," said Vice Mayor Huang. "Xiamen and Taiwan are geographically close to each other, and their people speak the same dialect, which show that they share similar culture and custom."

Currently, there are tens of thousands of Taiwanese who have settled down in Xiamen and every day there are more than 1,000 people traveling on the Xiamen-Kinmen shipping line, also called the "golden line," which started operating in January 2001. Last year, the line carried 400,000 passengers and the number for the first half of this year stood at 250,000, said Huang.

"Through this line, it will only take 30-40 minutes to travel from Xiamen to Kinmen, and less than two hours from Kinmen to the island of Taiwan," Huang said. "However, travel from Taiwan to the mainland via Hong Kong or Macao will take four or five hours. So a lot of time can be saved."

The trial Xiamen-Kaohsiung direct cargo shipping line, launched on April 19, 1997, had carried containers of 2.55 million TEUs by the end of 2004. Direct shipping between Xiamen and Taiwan has greatly facilitated cross-strait activities, including trade exchanges.

Data from the Xiamen Municipal Trade Development Bureau show that imports and exports between Xiamen and Taiwan totaled $972 million in the first half of this year, with a year-on-year increase of 11.9 percent Xiamen's exports are mainly Chinese traditional herbal medicine, local specialties, aquatic products and daily commodities. The Taiwan Small Goods Trade Market on the Dadeng Island of Xiamen, the only one on the Chinese mainland, has also been set up to facilitate and standardize cross-strait trade exchanges.

On August 1, a total of 15 types of Taiwan fruits were allowed to access the mainland market with zero tariffs. With its advantages of being a port city and sharing similar culture, geography and climate with Taiwan, Xiamen has seized on the opportunity, simplifying inspection and quarantine procedures and speeding up customs formalities, said Li Deyuan, Director of the Xiamen Municipal Agriculture Bureau.

Dai Bizhong, Vice Director of the Xiamen Municipal Trade Development Bureau, said that Xiamen is now a transit point for Taiwan fruits to enter the mainland market. "From May 28 to the end of July, six trading companies in Xiamen had imported 17 batches of fruits from Taiwan, weighing 86 tons and valued at $84,000," said Dai. "Except for some sold in Xiamen, most of them were airlifted to Beijing and Shanghai or sent to nearby regions."

According to Director Li Deyuan, the city is planning to set up a 5,000-square-meter wholesale fruit market to cater specially to Taiwanese fruits. It will also build a 350-square-meter inspection area and provide for a freezer that can hold 300 tons to complement the market.

Since regular direct flights across the strait have not been realized, Xiamen is most advantageously poised to become a distribution center for imported Taiwan fruits, said Li. Xiamen is the city nearest to Taiwan, and the Xiamen-Kinmen link can guarantee that the fruits can be transported to the mainland quickly and economically.

Li told Beijing Review that, to strengthen cooperation and exchange with Taiwan, Xiamen is set to build not only a distribution center for cross-strait fruits but also a platform for cross-strait technological cooperation and exchange in agriculture and a logistics center for cross-strait aquatic products.

Five-year blueprint

To play its role as the economic hub of southeast China and the western coast of the Taiwan Strait, the city will consolidate its manufacturing industry and the development of a modem service industry in the next five years, according to Vice Mayor Huang.

It will speed up the establishment of four industrial parks - one for electronics, another for petrochemicals and fine chemicals, the third for automobiles as well as auto parts and components, and the fourth for light industry including food and garments.

The city will strive to have its industrial output reach 80 billion yuan ($9.86 billion) in five years, so that it can contribute 60 percent of the volume of freight at the port, said Huang.

Meanwhile, Xiamen will also focus on developing service industry such as modem logistics and financial, legal and accounting services.

"While raising the overall level of the manufacturing industry and attracting more investment to develop its modern service industry, Xiamen must see a big-stride development in the next five years," said the vice mayor.

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