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Taiwan opens swathes of economy to China firms
by Staff Writers
Taipei (AFP) March 20, 2012

Taiwan said Tuesday it will open big areas of its economy to Chinese businesses for the first time in a bid to encourage greater investment and create more jobs on the island.

Chinese investors will be allowed to buy up to 50 percent of shares in key public infrastructure including subways, light rail systems, bridges and tunnels as well as cultural and educational facilities, the economics ministry said in a statement.

They will also be allowed to invest in conference centres, national parks, cable car systems and six other categories without restrictions, the ministry said in a statement.

In addition, mainland investors will be free to manufacture solar batteries and light-emitting diodes on condition that they do not take control of the business, it said.

The liberalisation, which takes effect from the end of the month, opens nearly all of Taiwan's manufacturing sector to Chinese investment as well as more than half of its service and infrastructure sectors.

According to the ministry, Chinese firms have invested around $272 million and created nearly 5,200 new jobs in Taiwan since the island relaxed rules on mainland investment in mid-2009 amid warming relations.

Taiwan and the mainland split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, but Beijing still considers the island part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

However, ties have improved markedly since Beijing-friendly Ma Ying-jeou became Taiwan's president in 2008. He was re-elected last week for a second four-year term.

Taiwanese companies have for years invested huge sums in China. Last year, the island's authorities approved 575 China-bound investment cases totalling $13.1 billion, officials said.

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