Reports out of Taiwan indicate that imports of U.S. beef will pick up considerably over the next year, now that the country has ended its ban on beef from cattle treated with ractopamine. Taiwan began enforcing the ban in 2011, resulting in a sharp decline in U.S. beef exports.
Ractopamine is a feed additive used to enhance gains and lean-meat yield late in the finishing period.
Taiwan had emerged as one of our top customers for U.S. beef in recent years, with the value of exports peaking at $216 million in 2010, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). But exports dropped off sharply this year. According to data from USMEF, during the period from January 11 through July 11, 2011, Taiwan imported 19,153 metric tons of U.S. beef with a value of$104 million. During the same period in 2012, Taiwan’s imports of U.S. beef dropped to 6,677 metric tons in volume and $43 million in value, a decline of 65 percent in volume and 58 percent in value.
In August of this year, under pressure from U.S. trade negotiators, legislators in Taiwan approved a bill allowing imports of beef from cattle treated with the product and setting a science-based maximum residue level. The ban officially ended on September 11.
According to a report from Focus Taiwan, trade officials expect the country’s imports of U.S. beef to reach two-thirds of pre-ban levels by the end of this year and recover completely to pre-ban levels by the end of 2013.
U.S trade officials had linked the beef dispute to a resumption of negotiations on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with Taiwan, which have stalled since 2007. Resolution of the issue likely will improve trade relations between the two countries. The Focus Taiwan article quotes Brent Christensen, deputy director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), expressing appreciation to President Ma Ying-jeou's administration for bringing Taiwan in line with international standards on beef imports. "We have reasons to be optimistic about the prospects for improved cooperation between the United States and Taiwan and other aspects of our economic relationship," Christensen says.