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Taiwan, Hong Hong, Macao companies seek new chances as CAFTA approaches

Xinhua, China

Taiwan, Hong Hong, Macao companies seek new chances as CAFTA approaches

24 October 2009

NANNING, Oct.24 (Xinhua) — Companies from China’s Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao tried to seek new chances at China-ASEAN Expo as the operation of China-ASEAN free trade area (CAFTA) approaches.

More than 500 entrepreneurs from the three regions swarmed to the epxo held from Oct. 20 to 24 in Nanning, capital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with the hope of catching the chance of the operation of CAFTA on Jan. 1 in 2010, under a series of agreements between China and ASEAN.

CAFTA will provide zero tariff on 90 percent of products traded between China and ASEAN and other favorable policies on trade and investment, said an official with the municipal government.

"We hope Chinese mainland and Taiwan will sign the economic cooperation agreements as soon as possible to let Taiwan companies be part of the FTA directly," said Liu Tung Yuen, secretary general of ASEAN-Taiwan trade and Investment Association.

Currently Taiwan companies can share the favorable policies via investment in Chinese mainland and ASEAN countries, Liu said.

Taiwan organized its biggest-ever delegation of more than 400 exhibitors in ten groups to the expo.

Taiwan enterprises had set up a systematic trading network in ASEAN countries, which could not only better serve themselves in the region but also help companies from either Taiwan or Chinese mainland to enter the ASEAN market, said Charles C. Lai, president of Asia Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce, which organized a group of more than 20 people from ASEAN and other Asian countries to attend the expo.

"Our products and service could be traded without any obstacle in the world’s largest FTA after next Jan 1," said Norman Chang, chairman of Thai-Taiwan Business Association. Chang said he runs electric industry in both Chinese mainland and ASEAN.

Taiwan companies in Thailand were mainly engaged in industries of aquaculture, agriculture and electronics and exported their products to western countries, that’s why they had been heavily affected by the global economic downturn, Chang said.

However, the markets of China and ASEAN had been very stable and had been recovering steadily, thanks to the series of stimulating plans made by the governments, Chang said. The new FTA will drive Taiwan companies to further explore the Chinese mainland market, which is believed to be able to relieve the negative effects of the financial crisis, he said.

Hong Kong and Macao entrepreneurs said the CAFTA will bring new chances for industries including logistics, tourism and exhibition, in which they have abundant experiences. At the same time they would catch the opportunity to move their investment from the booming eastern China areas to the less developed western region to reduce costs.

More than 70 professionals from Hong Kong enterprises and financial institutions and another 50-odd audience from Macao companies were organized to attend the expo respectively, an official of the municipal government said.

"New market opened for us as some ASEAN companies expressed their intention to cooperate with us at the expo, which is surprising and encouraging," said Xiao Beibei, an employee of HongKong Nuoshijia Door Company, which used to focus on Guangxi’s regional market.

Most companies consider southwest China provinces and regions as doorways to ASEAN and these areas are also good choices for their investment, said Ho Ioc Tong, chairman of the Macao Chamber of Commerce, who began investing in Guangxi 20 years ago.

The Macao delegation covers many industries including real estate, tourism, exhibition and traditional industries. The Macao companies had their confidence to join the FTA businesses with their own features, Ho said.