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Postal agreement with China will halve delivery time: Taiwan MOTC

Postal agreement with China will halve delivery time: Taiwan MOTC

A postal agreement expected to be inked during this week's negotiations between Taiwan and China in Taipei will offer significant savings on postal costs and delivery time, officials of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said Sunday.
"Once a postal agreement is reached, not only mailing costs can be reduced, the time needed for express delivery will be halved, " MOTC officials said.
They added it will also cost less to send regular mail even if the new agreement would not have a major impact on ordinary mail delivery time.
Chen Yunlin, president of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) , will head a delegation of around 60 people on a historic visit to Taiwan Nov. 3-7 to meet with his Taiwan counterpart Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).
Direct postal links will be one of the main items on the agenda for the talks.
Chen and Chiang are expected to sign agreements on the expansion of direct charter flights, the establishment of shipping services and postal links, and the creation of a mechanism on food safety cooperation.
Chen will be the highest ranking official from the People's Republic of China to visit Taiwan.
Chen and Chiang met for the first time in Beijing in June and inked two agreements on tourism and weekend charter flights during that encounter -- a meeting viewed by some analysts as a major breakthrough in cross-strait ties after President Ma Ying-jeou assumed office May 20.
In 1989, inter-Straits direct postal parcel delivery was established via Hong Kong. In April 1993, the ARATS and SEF signed the“Agreement on the Tracing of and Compensation for Lost Registered Mail Between the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area”to normalize registered mail service across the Taiwan Strait.
Without direct postal links at present, the 10 million pieces of express mail and letters sent annually between the two countries have to pass through Hong Kong or Japan.
As a result, it takes five to seven days for an express letter to go from Taipei to Beijing, an inconvenience complicated by the extra shipping and handling costs incurred at the transit points.
Due to the indirect arrangement, express delivery can only be commissioned to private companies such as Chunghwa Express Corp. (CHEX) , whose parent company is the state-owned Chunghwa Post Co., Ltd.
Senior postal personnel recalled that during the initial stage when the two sides of the Taiwan Strait started indirect postal exchanges, postage stamps used to be a sensitive issue because they symbolize sovereignty.
Therefore, stamps would only be put on in Hong Kong, or postal personnel would cross out the country name printed on the stamps to avoid the sensitive issue.
Despite all the inconveniences, MOTC officials noted that every month there are an average of over 10,000 express mail items sent from Taiwan to China, indicating high demand for a more direct cross-Taiwan Strait postal service.
Former CHEX Chairman Shen Chun-yen said that currently it takes three to five days to deliver express mail or parcels to primary cities in China, while it takes five to six days to reach second-tier cities, depending on flight connections and customs clearance.
But with direct postal links, it will take only two days for mail sent by express delivery to arrive in primary cities in China, he added.
“Direct postal links will save a lot of time and procedures in postal operations as well as reduce the cost significantly, ”said Huang Shu-chien, vice president of Chunghwa Post Co., Ltd.
“As far as Chunghwa Post company is concerned, we will have more of a competitive advantage if both sides of the Taiwan Strait can directly cooperate in the postal business, given the very keen competition between local and foreign companies,”he added.