Cross-strait trade dropped 0.7% in 2016: MAC

Taipei--Trade between Taiwan and China fell by an annual 0.7 percent in 2016 as relations between the two sides cooled, according to a report released Monday by Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), a department under the Cabinet responsible for Taiwan's relations with China.

The report, which was due to be presented to the Legislative Yuan later in the day, said that bilateral trade across the Taiwan Strait in 2016 was worth NT$117.9 billion.

A breakdown of the data showed that Taiwan's exports to China rose by an annual 0.6 percent to US$73.9 billion last year, while imports fell 2.8 percent to US$44 billion.

In addition to shrinking imports, visitor arrivals from China also fell in 2016, dropping 16.2 percent to 3.47 million, according to the report.

Cross-strait relations have cooled since President Tsai Ying-wen (???) took office in May 2016, primarily because she resisted China's call on her government to recognize the "1992 consensus", which Beijing sees a pre-condition for a continuation of warm ties under the previous administration under President Ma Ying-jeou (???).

Under the 1992 consensus, both China and Taiwan agree there is only one China, a condition which many Taiwanese do not agree with, but which has become Beijing's bottom line for good cross-strait relations.

In its report, the MAC said that due to the political pre-condition, China has been cutting back on the number of tourists allowed to visit Taiwan, while official meetings related to bilateral trade and economic agreements have been suspended even though contacts and the exchange of information have continued.

Meanwhile, the value of Taiwan government-approved investments in China by Taiwanese companies declined in 2016 by an annual 11.8 percent to US$9.67 billion, due to rising operating costs, the MAC said.

However, Chinese investments in Taiwan, approved by Taiwanese authorities, rose 1.5 percent last year to US$248 million, the report said.

The MAC said bilateral economic exchanges are the foundation of the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and it hoped China would agree to discussions on such exchanges in the interest of the people on both sides.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel