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Taiwan losing agricultural expertise to China

Guangxi, a province in southern China previously unable to grow grapes, has now turned into the biggest grape producer in the country and is very likely to subject Taiwanese grape farmers to intense competition in overseas markets, a legislative report said. Grapes are only one of many kinds of agricultural products in which Taiwan is losing its competitive advantage to China in foreign and even in domestic markets, the report said. “And it all happened thanks to an outflow of Taiwan’s agricultural expertise, including professionals, plant seeds and planting techniques, to China,” it said.

It added that some Taiwanese strains of agricultural products grown or raised in China have also dealt a blow to Taiwanese farmers, as the farmers’ products have been sent back to the country because they were still prohibited from entering China. They included carrots, pineapples and mushrooms.

In the six years since 2006, China has acted “in a more systematic way” to lure Taiwan’s farming sector, with a total of 29 “Development Parks for Taiwan Farmers” established in 14 provinces as of this year, in addition to nine “Cross-Strait Agricultural Cooperative Experimental Zones” that have been set up since 1997, according to the report.

China not only offers Taiwan-funded enterprises in the agricultural parks a set of incentives in land acquisition, tax credits and lending, but also encourages and invites award-winning Taiwanese farmers to visit China through organized tours, or offer them money in exchange for seeds and techniques, the report said.

According to the report, based on data from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, the investment made by Taiwan-funded enterprises in agricultural production in China amounts to US$6.7 billion, far higher than the figure provided by the Investment Commission at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which was US$4.3 billion.

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