Tue, Mar 07, 2017 - Page 12 News List

Taiwan seeks strong trade ties at Tokyo food show

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Taiwanese table tennis player Chiang Hung-chieh holds a bowl of salad containing vegetables and fruits from Taiwan at an international news conference held by the Taiwan External Trade Association in Tokyo, Japan, yesterday.

Photo: Lauly Li, Taipei Times

The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA, 外貿協會) yesterday led a delegation of 129 domestic food manufacturers — the most in years — to join this year’s Foodex Japan exhibition in Tokyo in an attempt to deepen agricultural trade relationships with the host nation.

“Japan is the second-largest export destination for Taiwan’s food products. We hope to seek more trade collaboration with the nation through this exhibition,” TAITRA chairman James Huang (黃志芳) told an international news conference in Tokyo.

Agricultural exports to Japan totaled US$790 million last year, while imports from Japan reached US$1 billion, TAITRA said.

Foodex Japan is the biggest food and beverage business-to-business exhibition in Asia and the world’s third-largest, with more than 80 nations participating this year, the Japan Management Association said, adding that about 77,000 trade professionals are expected to visit the four-day exhibition.

TAITRA said a total of eight city and county governments from Taiwan chose a select number of companies to showcase a wide range of products at the exhibition.

The products include agricultural and frozen aquatic products, processed foods, snacks, tea and craft beer, TAITRA said.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) said the city’s exports of lychees to Japan totaled 1.3 million tonnes last year, a number that has grown by double-digit percentages every year since the city joined the show in 2012.

About 60 percent of aquatic food exports to Japan came from Kaohsiung, Chen said, adding that the show has proven to be an important platform for the city to increase its exports to Japan.

Council of Agriculture Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) said the government has been discussing the possibility of lowering tariffs or increasing export allowances for certain products to expand the scope of the two nations’ trade relationship.

Lin declined to answer directly when asked if the government would consider lifting the import ban on Japanese food products from five prefectures, enacted in response to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant meltdown in 2011.

“The issue has become more or less political…We are still doing risk evaluation on food safety and trying to communicate with the public about the issue,” Lin said.

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