U.S. beef to Taiwan expected

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Feb 7, 2005
by WLJ
Taiwan is expected to announce by the end of February the results of its federal inspections of U.S. packing facilities that were supposed to mark the final stage in allowing U.S. beef back into the island nation, according to officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Taiwan suspended beef from the U.S. in December 2003 due to safety concerns over bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) after the discovery of a singe case of the disease at a Washington state farm.
Several USDA officials said Taiwan health and agriculture officials have traveled to the U.S. and have conducted on-site inspections of the implementation of the U.S. safeguards against BSE.
The Taiwan officials have completed the reviews necessary for resuming the beef trade, USDA said, adding that officials from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) have also been contacting relevant Taiwan officials in an effort to speed up the paperwork so that U.S. beef can reenter the Taiwan market at an earlier date.
AIT is a quasi-official organization authorized by Washington to handle U.S. exchanges with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries.
USDA officials are now more reserved and low-key over the re-entry issue than before after Taiwan lodged a protest against the USDA for its unilateral announcement late last year concerning Taiwan's reopening of its market to U.S. beef. The USDA announced Oct. 26 that Taiwan agreed in principle to resume imports of U.S. beef and beef products. Taiwan officials told them that they were close to completing the reviews necessary for resuming the beef trade, with on-site inspections being the final step of the process.
If everything went smoothly, it was expected that Taiwan would reopen its doors to U.S. beef and beef products before the end of 2004, the USDA news release said. However, that didn’t happen, and the final review to be released by Taiwan will now happen late this month or in March.
Taiwan purchased $325 million worth of U.S. beef and beef products in 2003, prior to BSE being confirmed. That made the Asian Island the sixth-largest importer of U.S. beef before it imposed the ban in December 2003. Since then, Australian beef has replaced U.S. beef in the Taiwan market.
More than 40 U.S. beef export markets, including Japan, the largest foreign consumer of U.S. beef, imposed embargoes against U.S. beef, seriously affecting the U.S. beef export trade worth $3.5-4 billion annually. — WLJ