After Undersecretary for Farm Foreign Agricultural Services J.B. Penn left Japan over the weekend he headed to other Pacific Rim countries to urge them to also consider resuming trade after closing its borders after the U.S. found its first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
In a news conference on Monday, National Cattlemen's Beef Association Vice President for Regulatory Affairs Chandler Keys says that Taiwan was "on the cusp of doing something and would like to be ahead of China" in resuming beef trade with the U.S.
And he was right. On Tuesday Taiwan agreed to follow Japan's lead in resuming trade. Taiwan has been one of our fastest growing markets in recent years. Trade of U.S. beef and beef products to Taiwan doubled between 1998 and 2000. In 2003, the U.S. exported a record $76.3 million in beef and beef variety meats to Taiwan, with total beef product trade to Taiwan in 2003 amounting to $325 million.
Many of the Asian "city states" don't want to be at an economic advantage with competing for U.S. beef, so Keys predicts many others will "line up" in the remaining days to similar principles Japan agreed to. Other key markets include Hong Kong, South Korea and China.
Taiwan officials indicated that the required assessments and evaluations for trade to resume were nearing completion. The final step is on-site inspection of the major features and implementation of the U.S. BSE measures. A delegation of Taiwan experts will now travel to the United States for these site visits beginning Nov. 10.