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First batch of ECFA early harvest fruit reaches Xiamen

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The first batch of Taiwan fruit products listed in the early harvest program under the cross-strait economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) was shipped to Xiamen of Fujian Province yesterday, the first day of the official implementation of the ECFA, according to the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA).

TAITRA officials said that 300 cartons of oranges and five cartons of cantaloupes were shipped to Xiamen yesterday afternoon after the certificates of their origin were issued. Under the early-harvest scheme, the fruit shipment will be subject to a preferential import tariff rate of five percent.

The officials said the batch of fruit was delivered to a fruit trading company based in Xiamen, which was invited by the TAITRA to visit Taiwan in November 2010 for meetings with prospective suppliers.

All the related units in Xiamen, such as inspection and quarantine, customs and harbor operations, have negotiated with TAITRA over the fruit shipments, TAITRA officials said, adding that Xiamen authorities have set up a single service window for handling ECFA-related trade affairs.

In the first 11 months of 2010, Taiwan's fruit exports to mainland China amounted to US$9.741 million, shooting up 129.5 percent from a year earlier, according to tallies released by TAITRA.

Besides orange and cantaloupe, fruit such as bananas, lemons and dragon fruit will also enjoy preferential import tariff rates in shipment to mainland China under the early harvest program of the ECFA. Accordingly, TAITRA officials forecast the island's fruit exports to the mainland to surge sharply in the new year.

On another front, the first shipment of highfin grouper fish to mainland China was launched yesterday afternoon, and is expected to reach Zhangzhou of Fujian Province at noon today, according to TAITRA.

Import duty rate on China-bound highfin groupers from Taiwan was cut to five percent from 10.5 percent in the first year of the ECFA, and the rate will be slashed to zero in 2012, which will significantly enhance the competitiveness of the island's exports of such fish to the other side of the Taiwan Straits, TAITRA officials noted.

Taiwan now ranks No. 1 in terms of artificial breeding of highfin groupers, with an annual output value of around NT$4 billion for a 58 percent share of total global production of such fish, TAITRA tallies indicated.

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