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Improving Business Climate for U.S. Meat in Taiwan

Beef shows resurgence in restaurants, retail stores

After Taiwan approval of ractopamine standards, U.S. Meat Export Federation senior vice president for trade access Thad Lively reports that the business climate for U.S. meat exports is improving.

Over the past couple of years, U.S. meat became increasingly entangled in a political controversy over the feed additive ractopamine, for which Taiwan had a zero-tolerance policy.

In September, Taiwan modified this policy for beef by adopting a maximum residue level. Lively reports that this has greatly improved the flow of U.S. beef into Taiwan, with the market showing early signs of returning to its past level of performance.

" Taiwan has adopted the standard for ractopamine that we have and that other countries around the world have," Lively says. "That allows us to export beef to Taiwan again without any problem. That's been in effect since September and the market is showing very good signs of coming back."

Taiwan was the first Asian market to resume imports of U.S. beef following BSE, and U.S. exports to the market set new value records every year from 2006 through 2010 – peaking in 2010 at $216 million. Exports retreated to just under $200 million in 2011, and through October of this year had only reached $86.4 million. But trade has picked up significantly in recent weeks, with importers and their customers regaining confidence in the demand for U.S. beef.

"We are seeing some of the more high profile restaurants and hotels that always had U.S. beef featured on their menus coming back. We are seeing the same sort of thing starting to happen with retail chains," Lively said, noting that the resurgence was encouraging.

On the pork side, Taiwan's zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine has not changed. But Lively reports that the controversy over ractopamine has subsided significantly, sparking renewed interest in U.S. pork from major importers and processors.

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