06/30/2008, 00.00
CHINA - TAIWAN
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Beijing and Taipei agree on currency exchange

For the first time, the Chinese yuan will be exchanged in Taiwan in banks, hotels, shops. Meanwhile, Chinese companies are asking Taipei to make it easier for foreign entities to buy property, as part of a rapid increase in economic relations.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - For the first time, the currency of mainland China will be available at the banks of Taiwan, in addition to authorised exchange points in hotels, airports, and tourism offices.

Chinese tourists will thus have access to the Taiwan dollar for their purchases, although for now the exchange limit is set at 20,000 yuan (about 2,000 euros).  In a few days, regular flights will begin between the two countries, and at least 3,000 Chinese tourists per day are expected.  Previously, monetary exchange was possible only on the external Taiwanese islands of Matsu and Kinmen, otherwise recourse had to be made to the currency exchange black market.

Meanwhile, the China National Real Estate Development Group, the mainland's largest state-owned developer, has asked Taipei to make it easier for foreign investors to purchase property.  Although the Taiwanese real estate market has been open to foreign companies since 2002, these are in fact required to present detailed reports on their financial resources before buying.  Moreover, Chinese visitors can remain in Taiwan for no longer than 10 days.  Chinese companies are very interested in this market, in part because real estate prices are much lower than those in other big cities, and a rapid rise is not expected: last week, businessmen from the Chinese province of Fujian bought 12 luxury residential units and a commercial complex in Taichung (central Taiwan) at a cost of 8.2 million euros.

These initiatives confirm the efforts of new Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou to improve economic relations between the two countries.  For the future, there is talk of an official currency exchange agreement, which would make the two currencies fully convertible.

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