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Controversy ensues after Taiwan expands access for U.S. red meat

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Taiwan’s move to establish maximum residue limits for ractopamine criticized.

On Jan. 1, Taiwan implemented market access changes for imports of U.S. beef and pork. For U.S. beef, the 30-month cattle age limit was eliminated, so Taiwan now accepts beef from U.S. cattle of all ages. For U.S. pork, Taiwan established maximum residue limits (MRLs) for ractopamine residues, easing the zero-tolerance policy previously in place.

Joel Haggard, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, pointed out that Taiwan is already a major destination for U.S. beef, with annual exports exceeding $500 million. It is currently the sixth largest market for U.S. beef, Haggard added.

When December data is available, USMEF said that U.S. beef exports to Taiwan could set another new record in 2020. Exports through November were 3% ahead of 2019's record pace in volume (59,404 metric tons) and down just 1% in value ($509.1 million).

Haggard noted that Taiwan's beef demand has held up well through the COVID-19 pandemic, as the island nation has been very successful in controlling the spread of the virus. Restaurant activity has remained strong with the exception of the hospitality sector, which has slumped due to a steep decline in foreign visitors.

On the pork side, USMEF said Taiwan's ractopamine policy change is a politically charged issue that has resulted in negative media coverage and an expansion of country-of-origin labeling requirements to include processed products. The country’s opposition party, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), has made a public commitment to oppose the measure.

“Counties governed by the KMT have pledged to implement their own zero-tolerance standards, and the party’s collecting signatures to mount a referendum this August to overturn the rule,” Haggard relayed.

In the short term, he said U.S. exports will likely slow as a result of this controversy. However, he noted that Taiwanese buyers are familiar with the safety and quality of U.S. pork, and demand is expected to gradually rebound.

“We anticipate the situation cooling down as it has in these episodes in the past.”

In 2020 (through November), U.S. pork exports to Taiwan were just under 20,000 metric tons (up 25% from 2019) valued at $51.1 million (up 33%).  

 

Source: U.S. Meat Export Federation, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

 

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