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Agricultural Bank to support farm exports

Agricultural Bank to support farm exports

Agricultural Bank of Taiwan (ABT), the only financial institution in the country dedicated to serving Taiwan's farm sector, set up an international banking department Tuesday to help local farmers sell their products overseas.

At the department's opening ceremony, ABT Chairman Chen Chao-hui (陳朝輝) said the local agricultural sector needs more financial support at a time when many farmers are seeking to market their products abroad.

Once the international banking department begins operations, Chen said, it will provide agricultural businesses with one-stop banking services, including the issuance of letters of credit and loans denominated in foreign currencies.

According to Chen, Taiwan had US$5.2 billion in agricultural exports and US$15.5 billion in agricultural imports in 2014, reflecting the local agricultural sector's need for foreign exchange services provided by ABT.

Based on the Agriculture Finance Act passed by the Legislative Yuan in 2003, ABT began operations in May 2005. The government holds a 44.5 percent stake in the bank, while farmers and fishermen associations hold the remaining 55.5 percent stake.

Currently, the bank, headquartered in Taipei, has three branches, one each in Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung.

Chen said ABT has a good understanding of the needs of agriculture businesses to keep their products fresh when making overseas sales, and the new department will work with farmers and fishermen associations to speed up the pace of fund flows to facilitate sales.

ABT President Cheng Cheng-mount (鄭貞茂) said the bank plans to seek approval from the Financial Supervisory Commission to open its offshore banking unit (OBU) next year.

Agricultural enterprises are expected to take advantage of the OBU to obtain funds and market information when looking to expand their businesses overseas, Cheng said.

The bank intends to set up a branch in Hsinchu and another in Chiayi next year, and all five of its branches will become authorized foreign exchange banks, ABT said.

Chang Yung-cheng (張永成), an executive with the National Farmers' Association, gave a thumbs up to the establishment of the international banking department, saying it makes it easier for local farmers to get foreign currency-denominated loans to buy agricultural machinery.

(By Yang Shu-min and Frances Huang)

Updated : 2021-05-12 13:05 GMT+08:00