U.S. meat and dairy exporters have a lot to gain if Taiwan removed barriers to their products. That’s why groups representing both sectors are lauding a U.S. announcement that the two countries have reached an agreement on a broad set of goals for a trade pact that they’re planning to begin negotiations on this fall.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation “is pleased to see trade negotiations with Taiwan moving forward and that commitments to science-based trade and production technologies are included,” USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom said in a statement provided to Agri-Pulse. “Taiwan is a terrific market for U.S. beef exports and holds strong growth potential for U.S. pork, if trade barriers are successfully addressed.”

The U.S. dairy sector is still hoping the Biden administration will reconsider its decision not to include tariff-reducing provisions in the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade, says Jaime Castaneda, executive vice president of the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council. Nevertheless, Castaneda stressed to Agri-Pulse that exporters are pleased to see the deal moving forward.

“While we are encouraged that the Administration has committed to advancing science-based regulatory practices in the trade discussions with Taiwan, we are concerned that negotiating lower tariff barriers into this key market is not a priority for the Administration,” Castaneda said. “U.S. dairy exporters are being put at an increasing competitive disadvantage in Taiwan and throughout Southeast Asia while our trade competitors receive preferential market access through comprehensive trade agreements.”

When it comes to beef, the U.S. is selling a lot to Taiwan and getting very good prices for those cuts.

The quantity of beef that the U.S. exported to Taiwan in the first five months of this year rose by 36% and value increased by 86%, according to USMEF data. Those exports accounted for 49% of Taiwan’s imports, making the U.S. its largest foreign supplier.

But outdated BSE and other restrictions are still tamping down the potential for even better trade, according to USMEF.

While Taiwan last year removed cattle age restrictions for beef imports from the U.S., the country still has restrictions on U.S. beef that comes from imported Canadian cattle. USMEF says that makes no sense because the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has recognized Canada as a “negligible risk” country for BSE – the lowest risk category there is and the same category as the U.S.

Furthermore, Taiwan banned the import of U.S. ground beef, beef trimmings, and internal organs in 2010 – an act that defies OIE standards.

“Taiwan is one of a small number of countries that still maintain restrictions to U.S. beef under the guise of BSE-related food safety issues,” USMEF said in submitted comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. “Through the Taiwan Initiative, we urge Taiwan to align itself with international standards and remove these outdated barriers to U.S. beef.”

Meanwhile, pork exports to Taiwan have been dropping, which market analysts have blamed on the country’s handling of its ractopamine restrictions and consumer fear of U.S. pork. While Taiwan did lift its zero-tolerance policy for ractopamine residues in U.S. pork, it enacted strict country-of-origin labeling requirements.

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“The country-of-origin requirements and other implicit messaging questioning the safety of U.S. pork, combined with poor risk communication efforts on the part of the Taiwanese government, has devastated demand for U.S. pork in Taiwan,” said USMEF in the comments it submitted to USTR.

The U.S. dairy industry is primarily concerned about tariffs when it comes to Taiwan, but USDEC and NMPF say they are hopeful that the Taiwan deal can also prevent non-tariff barriers that are plaguing U.S. exports elsewhere in Asia.

U.S. dairy exports to other Asian countries are stymied by “regulatory barriers such as onerous facility listing requirements and certification requirements,” and the U.S. should use the Taiwan deal to prevent the same problems with Taiwan, USDEC and NMPF say in comments submitted to USTR.

Specifically, the U.S. should get Taiwan to commit to accepting the standard sanitary export certificate for dairy issued by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

“Disciplines in the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on this would guard against future problematic changes by memorializing use of the certificate for future trade,” say USDEC and NMPF.

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