U.S. beef exports to Taiwan remain strong

Jan 15, 2010
by DTN

U.S. beef exports to Taiwan remain strong despite the country’s January decision to place new restrictions on trade, a move that riled U.S. lawmakers, industry representatives and government officials earlier this month.

Taiwan’s legislature decided the country should accept no ground beef or offal—organs such as tongues, livers and kidneys—from any country for 10 years after it discovered its most recent case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The new Taiwanese ban is showing little impact on U.S. exports, though U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) spokesman Joe Schuele said it was because there is virtually no ground beef market in Taiwan for U.S. exporters and Taiwanese demand for offal is light at best.

“If Taiwan was open to offal, we would do some business in that category ... but [Taiwan] is not a huge offal market,” Schuele said. “Taiwan buys mostly highvalue cuts.”

But U.S. lawmakers, government officials and industry leaders saw Taiwan’s new ban as a setback in U.S. efforts to reduce the impact of BSE on international beef trade.

The ban appears to do more superficial damage— impugning the perceived reputation of U.S. beef in general—rather than slowing commerce.

“The actual impact on commerce of the ground beef ban is not very significant,”

Schuele said. “It’s more the negative connotation of them banning it and implying that it’s unsafe.”

USDA and U.S. Trade Representative stressed that Taiwanese lawmakers were bowing to political pressure. Nevertheless, U.S. negotiators have succeeded recently in getting Taiwan to open up other areas of beef trade.

After an agreement was reached between the U.S.

and Taiwan in October, Taiwan began allowing in bonein beef cuts from the U.S., the first shipments are now on their way, said USMEF.

The most recent data shows the U.S. exported $10.9 million worth of beef to Taiwan in November, bringing the Januarythrough-November 2009 total to about $124 million and close to setting a record in U.S. exports. — DTN