TAIPEI (REUTERS) - China will allot investment quotas of up to 100 billion yuan (S$19.7 billion) for Taiwanese seeking to put money into its financial markets under the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (RQFII) programme, China's securities regulator said on Tuesday.
A China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) official also announced a series of measures to open its securities and futures markets to Taiwan, following an unprecedented meeting between the commission's chairman Guo Shuqing and Taiwan's top financial regulator earlier in the day.
"This is a big breakthrough in cross-strait financial ties," Mr Tong Daochi, director of the CSRC's international department, told a briefing for reporters in Taipei. "Now that we are here, we are sincere and determined."
The two sides have been moving to bolster their ties in the financial sector, which have lagged the closer cooperation in manufacturing and other areas due to Taiwanese concerns over influence by mainland China, its one-time political foe.
China's central bank and Bank of China's Taipei branch signed a clearing agreement last week for yuan transactions in Taiwan, completing the last step for the launch of yuan-based transactions in Taiwan next month.
The Taiwanese will become the first offshore individual investors granted access to China's mainland markets, under the measures announced on Tuesday. The RQFII and QFII quotas, established to allow foreigners to participate in mainland China's overseas markets, are now limited to institutions.
China will also allow Taiwanese brokerages to own as much as 51 per cent of their joint ventures with mainland Chinese counterparts in Shanghai, Fujian and Shenzhen, Mr Tong said.
In addition, Taiwan's financial firms will be allowed to own a majority stake in mutual fund tie-ups with mainland Chinese companies, he said, adding that China welcomes Taiwanese pension funds to invest in the mainland under the RQFII programme.
Mr Tong did not give a timetable for putting the measures into effect.
Taiwan, for its part, will double the limit for mainland Chinese citizens' total investment in Taiwan, under China's qualified domestic institutional investor (QDII) programme, to US$1 billion (S$1.2 billion), said Mr Thomas Huang, the head of Taiwan's securities regulator.
Mr Guo had told a forum in Hong Kong on Jan 14 that he was in talks with some investor groups about allowing offshore retail investors into the mainland's A-share market. He also said China could still increase its foreign investor quotas by up to 10 times.
China introduced the RQFII scheme, which allows overseas investors to deploy offshore yuan in mainland markets, at the end of 2011 with an initial quota of 20 billion yuan and raised that to 70 billion yuan last year.
It operates alongside the QFII programme, which gives foreign institutional investors access to onshore yuan and the Chinese capital markets through a quota.