Taiwan’s decision to lift U.S. beef and pork restrictions Jan. 21 was good news to hear amidst ongoing global pandemic reports.
As a precondition for a U.S.-Taiwan trade agreement, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced Aug. 28 that the country would ease restrictions on the import of beef from U.S. cattle aged 30 months or older and set permissible ractopamine residue levels for imports pork. The restriction on beef was placed due to concerns about mad cow disease. The ban on pork was due to concerns about ractopamine levels in pork.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has yet to start talks on an agreement. In early October, 50 U.S. senators signed a letter encouraging U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer to begin formal negotiations with Taiwan.
“It is hoped that this move will lead to future negotiation between the two countries toward a comprehensive and high-quality bilateral trade agreement,” says Eric Huang, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office based in Chicago. “As Taiwan is the United States’ ninth largest trading partner and seventh largest agricultural export market, we believe that a bilateral trade agreement will benefit both producers and consumers in the two countries, and further bring our two nations closer together in their partnership in all areas across the board.”
Jeffrey Phillips, international trade manager with the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture, says Taiwan is expected to remain a large and growing destination for U.S. food and ag products. Last year, the U.S. accounted for 32% of their food and ag imports. As of August, U.S. beef exports to Taiwan continued to rebound, up 20% from a year ago. That seems to indicate that the country’s foodservice sector is recovering nicely from the effects of COVID-19.
“Taiwan generally imports high-value cuts of beef and pork which would help Minnesota exports as restrictions on beef and pork products are lifted by Taiwan,” Phillips says.
Minnesota ranks 11th amongst U.S. states for exports of beef.
“Opening of the Taiwan market would certainly benefit Minnesota producers as Taiwan increases imports of U.S. beef products,” Phillips says.
Minnesota ranks second among U.S. states for exports of pork products.
“Taiwan has been a smaller export for pork given the ractopamine issue, but the industry expects this market to grow quickly,” he adds.
In looking at January through August 2020 export data, Minnesota’s export market with Taiwan looks promising, Phillips says. Overall, exports are up 52% with strong demand for animal feeds, distiller grains and pork products.
By addressing its trade issues with the U.S., Huang says the effort demonstrates Taiwan’s determination to tackle difficult issues in order to further strengthening Taiwan’s international economic linkages.
“We greatly value our friendship with the state of Minnesota and hope all Minnesotans will support Taiwan’s bid for a mutually beneficial and gold-standard bilateral trade agreement,” he says. “We will continue to communicate with Minnesota farmers and ranchers once the easing of the relevant import restrictions is finalized in a few months, and work with Minnesota associations to understand ways to cooperate with Taiwan importers.
“My office will also continue to support the biennial Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission in the future to bring Taiwan importers to the U.S. Midwest to directly interact with U.S. producers to promote the agriculture trade between U.S. and Taiwan.”