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April 26, 2017

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Xi wants closer trade ties with Taiwan: scholar

XIAMEN, China -- The man widely expected to be China's next president, Xi Jinping, and Li Keqiang, China's likely next premier, will build closer and more active trade ties with Taiwan, a Xiamen based scholar predicted yesterday.

"(The ties) will be expanded within two years with constant and strong momentum," according to Dai Shugeng, a professor of finance at Xiamen University in China's Fujian Province.

Despite the political distrust and the asymmetric transparency between the two sides, the Chinese government will continue to loosen its financial regulations and will engage more actively in trade with Taiwan, he said.

His remarks came ahead of high-level talks expected to be held between the end of June and mid-July in Taipei between Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and his Chinese counterpart, Chen Yunlin, president of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS).

The SEF and ARATS are quasi-official bodies responsible for cross-strait engagement in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

During the meeting, the two sides are expected to touch upon a cross-strait investment protection pact and customs cooperation.

On the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed between the two sides in June 2010, Dai said Taiwan is continuing to cash in on more benefits from the deal than China.

"Despite (the ECFA) designed to be a mutually beneficial pact, you (Taiwan) continue to reap more reward from it," he said.

On further talks under the ECFA, he said the focus will be on the financial sector, with more opening for either side expected in the banking, securities and insurance industries.

He pointed out that Taiwan's insurance industry is at a mature stage, with a diverse product range and quality after-sales services, while China's lags far behind, making the industry an ideal area for cross-strait cooperation.

In terms of the banking sector, Taiwan's well-developed credit support for small and micro enterprises provides a good example for China, he went on.

Dai also noted that Taiwan provides sufficient financial aid to its agricultural sector, another area in which China falls behind.

"We have credit cooperatives and agricultural banks, but our support for the agricultural sector is still limited," he said.

China's rural villages could be a huge market for Taiwanese banks, he added.

Dai continued that under China's recently approved financial reforms, the country's first private bank is likely to be set up in Wenzhou, the epicenter of the country's private economy.

Taiwan's highly developed private banking sector could provide valuable guidance for China in this regard, he added.

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