Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung led a delegation on a visit to the United States from August 2 to 5. Not only did he attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Food Security Ministerial Meeting on August 3 in Seattle to exchange views with ministers and representatives of APEC economic entities on issues including food security and dealing with climate change, on August 2 he presided over a press conference and forum to promote “Taiwan Agri-Food” products. The event introduced Taiwan premium agriproducts (including grouper, edamame, mangoes, tea, dried fruits, and Phalaenopsis orchids) to American government dignitaries, importers, and media outlets. In his remarks at the event, Minister Chen noted that exports of Taiwan agriproducts to the US in 2022 totaled NT$27.2 billion, an increase of 5.1% compared with 2021, and that the US has already surpassed mainland China to become the single largest export market for Taiwan agriproducts. He expressed his hope that in the future even more US consumers will be exposed to Taiwan agriproducts to deepen Taiwan-US agricultural and fishery trade and cooperation.
The press conference and dinner party to promote “Taiwan Agri-Food” was attended by numerous important personages including political dignitaries Senator Keith Wagoner, Senator Ann Rivers, and Representative Cindy Ryu (all from the Washington state legislature); Seattle Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell; and Democratic National Committee Member Sharon Mast; as well as Greater Seattle Partners President and CEO Brian Surratt, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle Director General Daniel Kuo-ching Chen, and representatives of sales channels, trading companies, and the overseas Taiwanese community. Distinguished guests demonstrated Taiwan-US friendship with action and supported the deepening of bilateral trade in agriproducts and agricultural cooperation. During the activity, Minister Chen specially recommended Taiwan grouper, edamame, and mangoes. In addition, chefs from five-star restaurants used Taiwan agri-food ingredients to make delicious dishes and desserts which won universally positive responses from guests. At the same high-quality agriproducts from Taiwan including tea, dried fruit, processed food, and Phalaenopsis orchids were displayed on-site, and American importers and sales channels expressed great interest in Taiwan agriproducts.
Washington State Senator Keith Wagoner stated that Taiwan is not only an important US trading partner, but that the two countries also share the values of freedom and democracy and in the future should continue to build a robust relationship. He said he has eaten a lot of delicious fruit from Taiwan and hoped that even more Americans will be able to enjoy Taiwan’s fruit and other farm and fisheries products, and thereby deepen mutual understanding of each other’s culture and the friendship between the two parties.
Minister Chen remarked that the aim of the promotion of Taiwan agriproducts in Seattle is to deepen Taiwan-US bilateral trade relations. He especially recommended Taiwan grouper, for three reasons: First, grouper is healthy, being rich in high-quality protein and Omega-3. Second, grouper is very delicious, and each bite of grouper shows support for Taiwan fishermen and helps Taiwan’s fisheries industry to sustainably develop. Third, grouper is a Taiwan agriproduct that represents free trade, because two years ago mainland China, in violation of international norms, unilaterally suspended imports of grouper from Taiwan. This event at which the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) went to the US to share grouper and many other Taiwan agriproducts with Americans, and where everyone could try delicious cuisine made with Taiwan agriproducts, was aimed at deepening bilateral agricultural trade and thereby benefitting farmers in both countries.
In order to expand sales channels for Taiwan farm and fisheries products in the US, at the press conference Minister Chen Chi-chung also engaged in discussions with importers and sales channels from the US West Coast, exchanging views about matters including sales and marketing of Taiwan farm and fisheries products in the US. Chen specifically directed his colleagues to pro-actively assist businesses in Taiwan to solve problems affecting exports to the US including cold-chain transport and stabilization of supply.
The MOA indicates that the US has always been Taiwan’s most important agriproduct trading partner. In 2022 22.8% of Taiwan’s agriproduct imports came from the US, and these were worth about NT$138.1 billion. Taiwan is the seventh largest export market for American agriproducts, with main products including soybeans, wheat, corn, beef, chicken, and apples. The US was also the largest export market for agriproducts from Taiwan in 2022, with agriproduct exports to the US totaling about NT$27.2 billion. Main exported products include Phalaenopsis orchids, tea, edamame, baked good, and noodles, as well as frozen fish such as tilapia. Taiwan agriproducts are very popular in the US, and Taiwan is currently actively applying to the US for permission to export pineapples and processed pork products to that country. The hope is that American consumers will be able to taste even more high-quality and delicious agricultural products from Taiwan.
The MOA points out that despite the fact that in recent years the whole world has been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, in Taiwan, thanks to the collective efforts of farmers, farmers’ organizations, exporters, and the government, as well as strong support from consumers home and abroad, the price of farm and fisheries products at the point of production has remained stable and farmers’ incomes have been protected. Moreover, the value of global exports of agriproducts and the value of exports to markets other than mainland China hit new historic highs in 2021 and 2022, respectively, even as exports to mainland China fell from a high of 23.2% of total agriproduct exports in 2018 to 12.9% in 2022. Of these products, exports of fruit to mainland China fell from a high of 80.1% of all fruit exports in 2019 to 1.6% in 2022. The US and Japan have already surpassed mainland China as Taiwan’s two largest markets for agriproduct exports, clearly showing that the government’s efforts to continue to expand exports of agriproducts and reduce reliance on the mainland Chinese market have had a great deal of success. In the future the MOA will continue to adopt multiple marketing approaches and develop new product exports, new markets, and new sales channels in order to increase the quantity and value of Taiwan’s agriproduct exports and increase farmers’ incomes.