FAS: Taiwan trade mission not part of China negotiations
The current Agriculture Department trade mission to Taiwan is not connected to U.S. trade negotiations with the People’s Republic of China, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Administrator Ken Isley told reporters today in a call from Taipei.
The People’s Republic of China and Taiwan have a complicated relationship. The Communist government on the mainland considers Taiwan a part of China, but the island to which the non-Communists retreated during the 1949 revolution tries to maintain a separate market economy and democracy while avoiding too much conflict with officials in Beijing.
Responding to repeated questions from reporters about a connection to the negotiations with China, Isley said that even though the trade mission this week is the first ever to Taiwan organized by FAS, it was not set up to send a message to Beijing. The U.S. government has not gotten any reaction from Beijing, Isley added.
There is “no connection to the ongoing trade situation” with China, Isley said, adding that he considers the mission to Taiwan to be “long overdue.”
Taiwan is a “stable” market and the United States exports more to Taiwan than any other country – about $4 billion in goods per year, he said.
The 49 companies and groups from 21 states and American Samoa that are on the mission have held 367 meetings with Taiwanese businesses resulting in expected sales of $15.6 million, he said.
Taiwan is a “very foodie culture” with consumers who are health conscious and interested in fruits, vegetable, snacks, beverages, wine, and distilled spirits, he said.
Isley noted that when he and members of the mission appeared on a radio show, they were asked where people could buy U.S. organic food products.
Isley said he also met with Taiwanese officials and that the issue of ractopamine in animal products had been discussed in “frank” terms and that he feels progress had been made.