Thursday, June 22, 2006


2006-06-22 by Elizabeth Hsu

Taipei, June 22 (CNA) Taiwan's first rice-trading center was inaugurated and began its first day of operations Thursday at the Agriculture and Food Agency's (AFA) southern regional office in Tainan City.

Trading at the new facility will emphasize the quality and safety of rice, instead of the weight -- the traditional way of rice-trading on the island, AFA Director-General Huang Yu-tsai said in his address at the inauguration ceremony.

Weight has been key, or sometimes the only reference for traders to buy crops from growers, while the government guarantees the price of NT$21 per kilogram of rice as part of efforts to maintain a stable rice market, Huang explained.

However, at the new rice-trading center, more information including type of rice strain, name of grower and safety guarantees will be available for traders' reference.

Huang said he expects quality-oriented rice trading to replace that of weight-oriented trade.

A rice farmer participating in Thursday's opening expressed support for the rice center's establishment, a venue where he said he had gained a profit twice that of the production area.

The center is the first of four such planned facilities by the Council of Agriculture, with others to be constructed in Taiwan's northern, central and eastern regions, respectively.

Trading at the southern regional rice center will be conducted once every two weeks, with each grower obliged to auction at least 30 tons of rice, while the bidder has to purchase at least five tons of rice per bid, according to the Tainan center.

On the center's first day of operations, a total of 13 trading transactions were completed, with "dream beauty" rice grown in Houpi Township, Tainan County, selling at the day's highest price -- NT$160,000 per ton -- or three times that of other brands of high-quality rice on the market.

According to the AFA, "dream beauty" is a crop of rice bred under a contract of Japanese traders. The rice will be exported to Japan in July and marketed there in small packages.

It is rare to see rice exported to Japan in small packages from other rice-producing countries, AFA officials noted.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Taipei, June 18 by Deborah Kuo, CNA

Taiwan's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) surpassed South Korea's by over US$6,000 in 2003 based on purchasing power parity (PPP) adjustments, Taiwan's top economic planner said Sunday.

Hu Sheng-cheng, chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) , said Taiwan's PPP-adjusted per capita GDP for 2003 was US$24,558, surpassing South Korea's US$17,900, indicating that Taiwanese people enjoyed a higher living standard than South Koreans.

Noting that major international economic institutions use PPP to measure a country's per capita GDP, Hu said the measure, which excludes inflation and currency fluctuation rates, more accurately gauges a country's per capita national income and general living standards.

Quoting statistics compiled by the Swiss International Institute of Management and Development, Hu said Taiwan's PPP-adjusted per capita GDP reached US$24,676 in 2004, ahead of South Korea's US$18,686.

Due to the "time lag" in compiling PPP-adjusted measures, no data is available to make a comparison for the year 2005, he said.

Hu acknowledged that South Korea is a respectable competitor judging from its robust economic development and brilliant trade performance. However, he said he disagrees with those academics who complain that Taiwan has lagged behind South Korea in economic growth in the last two years.

Chu Yun-peng, head of the National Central University's Taiwan Economic Development Research Center, said recently that "South Korea has emerged as the second largest source of Taiwan's trade deficit after Japan. I'm not surprised by its overtaking Taiwan in terms of per capita GDP in 2005. With South Korea's towering ambition, I think that country is likely to surpass Taiwan even in terms of PPP-adjusted per capita GDP in the near future."

Chu also said that Taiwan's government should not become complacent by accepting moderate growth and should map out a forward-looking economic development policy to accelerate growth.

According to recent statistics issued by the Bank of Korea, South Korea's economic growth rate was estimated at 4 percent for 2005, slightly lower than the 4.7 percent registered in 2004. Nevertheless, its per capita GDP reached US$16,291, marking an impressive 14.8 percent year-on-year increase.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's per capita GDP amounted to US$15,271 for 2005, up 7 percent from the previous year's level. By comparison, Taiwan went from leading South Korea by US$100 in per capita GDP in 2004 to trailing it by US$1,020 in 2005.

Hu attributed this mainly to the greater appreciation of the Korean won against the U.S. dollar, which rose 11.8 percent against the greenback while the new Taiwan dollar only rose 3.9 percent during the same period.

Hu said currency exchange rate changes have nothing to do with a country's competitiveness and only reflect international capital movements during a specific period. Therefore, he said, it might be too early to conclude that Taiwan has fallen behind South Korea. "It is unfair to say that the government has failed in efforts to rev up Taiwan's economy simply because one set of figures show South Korea surpassing Taiwan in per capita GDP for one single year, " Hu argued.

Friday, June 16, 2006

German Publisher Debuts Travel Guide To Taiwan

BERLIN, June 16 Asia Pulse (CNA)

A leading travel publisher in Germany, Polyglott Tours & Travel AG, published a new guidebook this month that is considered the most useful and detailed German-language source of information for traveling in Taiwan.

The 106-page color travel guide contains comprehensive summaries of Taiwan's history, culture and politics, while recommending four key tours in the island's northern, central, southern, and eastern regions, and covering 12 major sightseeing attractions including the capital city of Taipei, the wood sculpture township of Sanyi and Kenting National Park.

The guide also provides detailed information about special folk traditions and cultural life in Taiwan, such as the night markets, hot springs, tea ceremony, local religion and traditional puppet shows.

The author, Guenter Whittome, also reminds his readers -- would-be travelers to Taiwan -- of the existence of many cultural differences, such as the custom of not leaving chopsticks upright in bowls or the acceptability of making lip-smacking noises while dining.

For instance, Whittome notes in his new book that most Taiwanese are not accustomed to paying the check separately while dining with friends because one of them will "fight to pay."

Whittome, who holds a degree in Sinology from Hamburg University, said in an interview with CNA Wednesday that to refresh the German media's outdated image of Taiwan, he spent more than half a year writing the guidebook hoping his compatriots would better understand modern Taiwan and how its culture differs from China's.

Whittome has resided in Taiwan for three years, and is currently working as a translator in Taipei.

Taiwan's Tourism Bureau in Frankfurt has ordered 10,000 copies of the book to send free copies to Europeans who are preparing to travel to Taiwan, office director Chan Wei-ting said.

The new Taiwan guidebook is expected to be on shelves of bookstores around Germany and German-speaking countries including Austria and Switzerland, according to Polyglott.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ukraine Completes WTO Talks With Taiwan

GENEVA, June 15, CNA

Ukraine has completed bilateral talks with Taiwan to pave the way for the Eastern European country's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), a Ukraine official said Thursday.

The announcement was made by Valeriy Pyatnytskiy, deputy minister of economy of Ukraine, while reporting to a WTO working group considering Ukraine's application on WTO entry.

A total of 50 WTO member nations have requested talks with Ukraine, and Taiwan is the 49th country that has completed talks with the Eastern European state.

Three rounds of bilateral talks have been held between Taiwan and Ukraine. In addition to economic and trade issues, Taiwan has expressed concern during the talks over the Ukrainian government's rejection of ROC passports printed with the word "Taiwan" on their cover. Ukraine has dealt with the problem at the request of Taiwan.

According to official statistics from Taiwan, bilateral trade between Taiwan and Ukraine was valued at US$257 million in 2005, down 41 per cent from the year-earlier level, with Taiwan posting a trade deficit of US$12 million with the country.

Imports to Taiwan from Ukraine amounted to US$135 million, down 60 per cent over the previous year, while exports to Ukraine amounted to US$123 million, up 28.41 per cent over the previous year.

During the first three months of 2006, exports from Taiwan to Ukraine increased significantly from US$15.2 million to US$31.93 million, marking an increase of 108 per cent.

Taiwan's exports to Ukraine are mainly machinery, textiles, consumer electronic products and consumer products. Major imports from Ukraine include aluminium, iron, steel, zinc and cotton.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Taiwan To Sign Free Trade Pact With Nicaragua

Taipei, June 14 by Sofia Wu, CNA

Taiwan will sign a free trade agreement with Nicaragua June 16 to further boost bilateral trade and economic cooperation, government officials said Wednesday.

Minister of Economic Affairs Hwang Ing-san and his Nicaraguan counterpart, Alejandro Jose Arguello Choiseul, will sign the agreement in Taipei on behalf of their governments. Arguello will travel to Taipei for the event.

The new agreement is set to take effect at the beginning of next year, the officials said.

The two countries completed free trade pact negotiations earlier this year. Nicaragua, one of Taiwan's diplomatic allies in Central America, will be the third country to sign a free trade accord with Taiwan, after Panama and Guatemala.

Two-way trade between the two countries totaled US$46.27 million in 2005, marking a 5.2 percent year-on-year growth and leaving a US$33.06 million trade surplus in Taiwan's favor.

Major Taiwan exports include textiles, kitchenware and plastic products, while imports from Nicaragua include frozen beef, coffee, timber and scrap metals.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Taipei, June 13 by Elisa Kao, CNA

President Chen Shui-bian said Tuesday that Taiwan will help Sao Tome and Principe fight malaria and cholera, using its successful experiences in fighting the diseases.

Chen made the remarks while meeting with Sao Tome and Principe Deputy Primer Minister and Minister of Planning and Finance Maria Torres, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Carlos Gustavo, and its Ambassador to the United States Ovidio Manuel Barbosa Pequeno.

During the meeting, Chen extended his congratulations to the coalition backed by Sao Tome and Principe President Fradique de Menezes for winning a parliamentary election held March 26, and wished the African diplomatic ally successful local and presidential elections to be held July 9 and July 30, respectively.

Hailing Torres as an outstanding financial and economic expert as well as an influential Cabinet member, Chen said both he and De Menezes have paid much attention to the rights of women and hope that women can have better career opportunities, citing the example of Taiwan, where the vice president and deputy prime minister are women.

De Menezes made his fourth visit to Taiwan last November, when his country was hit by cholera.

After discussing the situation in his country with Chen, Taiwan offered to provide US$100,000 to Sao Tome and Principe in emergency relief funds, and sent a medical team to control the epidemic.

Chen said with its epidemic-fighting experience, Taiwan is glad to help Sao Tome and Principe eliminate malaria and cholera.