Thad Lively, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) senior vice president for trade access, has just returned from meetings in Taiwan, where he found an improving business climate for U.S. meat exports. Over the past couple of years, U.S. beef and pork became increasingly entangled in a political controversy over the feed additive ractopamine, for which Taiwan had a zero-tolerance policy. In September, Taiwan modified this policy for beef (in a manner similar to many international trading partners) by adopting a maximum residue level (MRL). Lively reports that this has greatly improved the flow of U.S. beef into Taiwan, with the market showing early signs of returning to its past level of performance.

Taiwan was the first Asian market to resume imports of U.S. beef following BSE, and U.S. exports to the market set new value records every year from 2006 through 2010 – peaking in 2010 at $216 million. Exports retreated to just under $200 million in 2011, and through October of this year had only reached $86.4 million. But trade has picked up significantly in recent weeks, with importers and their customers regaining confidence in the demand for U.S. beef.

On the pork side, Taiwan’s zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine has not changed. But Lively reports that the controversy over ractopamine has subsided significantly, sparking renewed interest in U.S. pork from major importers and processors.