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China to the rescue as Taiwan banana prices slip

Written by: Staff
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TAIPEI, Oct 24 (Reuters) China has found a new way to enhance its appeal to people on Taiwan -- bananas.

The self-ruled island, which Beijing claims as its own, is facing a glut of the fruit and China has bought up a vast amount to prop up prices and soothe worried local farmers.

Not to be outdone, Taiwan's government said yesterday it had also purchased a quantity of locally grown bananas to help ease the glut.

The flurry of buying came as the price of Taiwan bananas slipped to as little as Taiwanese dollar per kilogram, a two-year low.

The Taipei government had bought 3,700 boxes, each weighing 15 kg, to sell to its employees, Council of Agriculture spokesman Rocky Lin said.

Meanwhile, he said, China had ordered 2,000 metric tonnes of the fruit, a move Taiwan had accepted despite the ruling party's opposition to over-reliance on a country it sees as an enemy.

The Taiwan government's banana buying began last Wednesday at the going rate of Taiwanese dollar per box, and purchases would continue until the end of the month, Lin said.

Sales to other countries had also helped support prices, the council said in a statement. The average price in Taipei was Taiwanese dollar per kg, with farmers earning at least Taiwanese dollar of that on average, it said.

China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province rather than a separate country and periodically takes action to generate sympathy among Taiwan citizens or opposition lawmakers.

Lien Chan, former chairman of Taiwan's opposition Nationalist Party, mentioned the banana surplus issue at an agriculture summit on October 17 on the southern Chinese island of Hainan.

REUTERS PDS RAI0434

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