Deals a 'big boost for cross-Straits businesses'
By Wang Zhenghua and Wang Ying (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-11-05 07:29

Businesspeople across the Straits hailed the agreements signed between the mainland and Taiwan Tuesday, saying they would boost economic ties and benefit people on both sides greatly.

Wang Kuoda, vice-president of Shanghai association of Taiwan businesses, said the increase in direct flights, sea links and postal services was in conformity with the times. (See graphic)

"We are overwhelmed and think whether the Straits is so wide that we needed 60 years to take the step," he said.

Now that Taiwan and the mainland have signed deals on daily direct flights, it will not make any difference whether the headquarters of a company is set up in Kaohsiung, Shanghai or any other city across the Straits, Wang said.

Another Shanghai-based Taiwan businessman, Hong Pingtao, said that since the cross-Straits flight has now been shortened to 80 minutes, he would ask his wife to visit the mainland every weekend.

The Taiwan artist, who is the founder and president of Shanghai 800 Arts Auction, plans to ship his belongings from Taiwan to Shanghai, too.

Hong has been planning to transport his belongings for the past six years that he has stayed on the mainland, but had to shelve his idea because of the expensive freight and possible delay.

"We used to spend a lot of time on transfer and Customs clearance. The new agreements will make our life easier," he said.

Businesspeople in Taiwan, too, said the deals would greatly benefit people across the Straits.

"I expect the new agreements to help airlines save 10-20 percent of their costs. It is definitely a big plus for us," said Roger Han, senior vice-president of China Airlines, Taiwan's leading international carrier.

Han estimates the flight time between Taipei and Shanghai, the most popular route for Taiwan travelers, will be cut from 2 hours to about 90 minutes," he said.

"More convenient and cheaper flights are likely to attract more passengers and boost business," Han said.

Direct air cargo services will save Taiwan investors on the mainland tens of millions of dollars a year, said Cheng Cheng-mount, chief Citibank economist in Taiwan.

A Yang Ming Marine spokesman estimated direct shipping links would cut $24.3-30.5 million in costs a year. At present, most Taiwan ships have to pass through Japan's waters to reach the mainland.