Chinese mainland to resume sand exports to Taiwan(11/14/07)


  BEIJING, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese mainland will resume the export of natural sand to Taiwan "as soon as possible," according to the Ministry of Commerce.

    A group of non-governmental organizations from Taiwan have held "very good" talks with the mainland's relevant departments about the issue, said Tang Wei, an official with the ministry in charge of trade affairs between the mainland and Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao, at the regular press conference of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

    The Chinese mainland banned the export of natural sand in March this year, citing environmental concerns.

    Given that 90 percent of sand in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao comes from the mainland, the three regions are exempt from the ban but trade will remain suspended until a special policy is worked out, according to an announcement issued by the Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs.

    The mainland will export sand to Taiwan in a "proper annual volume" that does not harm resources and the export volume will be reduced annually, said Liang Shuhe, director of the external trade department under the commerce ministry.

    Meanwhile, the mainland hopes that Taiwan importers can promise not to sell the sand to other countries and regions and non-governmental trade organizations can help supervise them, Liang said.

    A mainland exporter must gain a license to export natural sand to Taiwan, he said.

    The mainland also welcomes Taiwanese shipping agencies and organizations to talk with the mainland's Association for Shipping Exchanges Across the Taiwan Strait about the technical problems of sand shipping, said Li Jiansheng, official with the Ministry of Communications.

    "We prefer a less costly way to ship natural sand than existing ones as the profit margins of the sand business have already become very thin," Li said.

    Cargo crossing the Straits must be shipped through Hong Kong or the third port of other countries.

    The mainland signed an agreement on natural sand trade with Hong Kong and Macao under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) in February this year and the sand trade resumed on March 25.

    Although many have called for a trade mechanism across the Straits like CEPA, without direct mail, trade and transport links, along with mutual trade and investment flows, the conditions are not yet ready, Tang said.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia



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