Taiwan signs US$3 billion procurement deal for U.S. grains

(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Led by Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture, two Taiwanese trade teams recently arrived in the U.S. and met with American grain importers. The teams were hosted by U.S. government officials at Capitol Hill on Wednesday and signed a memorandum of agreement that will see more wheat, corn, soybean and other grains export to Taiwan in the next two years, according to a report by Liberty Times.

The deal, worth US$3 billion, was signed in the presence of Pat Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Ted Yoho, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific under the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, along with four other Senators and eleven Representatives. AIT managing director John J. Norris Jr. and Taiwan’s de facto U.S. ambassador Stanley Kao (高碩泰) also joined its signing ceremony and gala dinner.

Some participating Congress members thanked the island country for its generous donation of US$800,000 for hurricane Harvey relief efforts, saying it proves a strong friendship between the two.

Taiwan’s COA deputy chief Huang Jin-cheng (黃金城) said that the procurement deal is designed to improve the trade balance with the U.S., amid Donald Trump’s dire concern over the country's trade deficit with many nations.

Speaking on the issue of market access for U.S. pork and beef, Huang said that the Taiwan government has to address discrepancies between facts and feelings among its people and asked for more efforts to ease concerns before expanding access. Huang explained that Taiwanese people need time and education to accept Ractopamine in pork.

In 2012, Taiwan began allowing residue of Ractopamine in beef at 10ppb in line with CODEX, but it has yet to nail down the acceptable level for pork as no progress has been made assessing its risk.

Taiwan is the fifth-largest consumer of U.S. wheat and the sixth-largest market for U.S. corn and soybeans. The island country is the seventh-largest consumer of U.S. agricultural products overall.