Sun, Oct 22, 2006 - Page 11 News List

Washington state governor touts agriculture in Taipei


The governor of the US state of Washington said yesterday she wants Taiwanese consumers to regard her state as a main source for high-quality food.

At the close of a three-day visit to Taiwan, Governor Christine Gregoire told reporters that her state wanted to be known in Asia for high-quality fruits such as peaches and cherries, and for its wines.

Washington State exported more than US$830 million in apples, cherries, wine, wheat, potatoes and processed foods to Taiwan last year, the American Institute in Taipei said.

The state's exports to Taiwan totaled US$3.1 billion last year, a 45 percent increase from 2004, the institute said in a statement.

Gregoire visited Taiwan with about 80 business people, with agriculture high on her agenda.

Washington apples have traditionally received high visibility in local supermarkets, but the state is also a less-well-known supplier of other food products, US Department of Agriculture Director Valoria Loveland said.

Most French fries eaten at numerous fast food restaurants in Taiwan are made from Washington state potatoes, Loveland said.

Gregoire said Washington was the most attractive investment destination in the western US for Taiwanese companies.

"Washington is easier to get to, the costs to do business are lower, and property values are more reasonable than in California," Gregoire told reporters.

The state is attempting to attract companies from Taiwan's booming electronics sector to invest in the state, already home to software giant Microsoft.

Gregoire said several investment deals with Taiwanese companies were under discussion, but had not yet been finalized.

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