The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced April 7 that Taiwan will open its border April 16 to U.S. boneless beef from animals under 30 months of age.

The reopening ends a 15-month ban initiated in December 2003 when a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in a Canadian-born dairy cow in Washington  State.

U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Philip M. Seng said, “The opening of the Taiwan market to U.S. beef is the result of hard work by USDA, American Institute of Taiwan (AIT), the USMEF staff and our industry partners.”

A survey conducted in Taiwan by Ipsos International  in late February 2005 found that 56 percent of consumers said they were confident of U.S. beef safety, up 11 percent from a year ago. In addition, a survey conducted by USMEF at Taiwan’s premier food show, Food Taipei 2004, found 74 percent of consumers said they will, or are likely to, buy and eat U.S. beef after the import ban is lifted.

Results also showed younger people were more likely to eat beef and a smaller number than ever (18 percent) eat no beef as Taiwan’s traditional eating patterns are changing.

"Our staff in Taiwan has worked diligently during these past months to convey a message of safety and wholesomeness to consumers in their country. We believe the results of these surveys show this effort has been successful. We look forward to working with and serving our loyal customers in Taiwan," Seng added.

In 2003, the United States exported $76.3 million worth of beef and beef variety meat to Taiwan. Boneless beef, now eligible for export, accounted for $56.8 million or 74 percent of total U.S. beef exports to Taiwan. U.S. beef and beef variety meat exports to Taiwan totaled 19,184 metric tons (mt) in 2003 with boneless beef accounting for 66 percent of the total.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation is the trade association responsible for developing international markets for the U.S. red meat industry and is funded by USDA, exporting companies, and the beef, pork, corn, sorghum and soybean checkoff programs.