Taiwan on Wednesday inked a new pact in which it committed to purchase up to US$3.1 billion in agricultural produce from the US.
The agreement committed Taiwan's flour, grain and hide-processing industries to purchase up to that amount in US wheat, corn, soybeans and animal hides both next year and in 2007.
Two years ago, a similar mission committed to the purchase of US$2.87 billion in these commodities.
The produce will come mainly from eight states that the purchasing delegation -- made up of several Taiwanese produce associations -- will visit in the next two weeks.
The states are Iowa, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, Kansas and Texas.
In addition, a number of other states with significant agricultural industries are expected to benefit from the deal, including Indiana.
That state's senior senator, Richard Lugar, the powerful Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, attended the signing ceremony and signed some of the agreements.
During a speech he made to the gathering, he described himself as an old corn and soybean farmer.
Taiwan's Representative Office in the US said that Taiwan is the seventh-largest market for US agricultural exports.
In the agreement for this year and last, Taiwan promised to purchase 13.6 million tonnes of soybeans, corn and wheat from US traders, as well as 4 million pieces of unprocessed hides.
To date, Taiwan has imported 9.5 million tonnes of grain and beans under the previous agreement.
In their presentations on behalf of Taiwan, de facto ambassador David Lee (李大維) and the head of the agricultural mission, Chen Hsi-huang (陳希煌), also made references to Taiwan's US$2 million donation to the victims of Hurricane Katrina along the US Gulf Coast.
Several of the 19 Congress members present at the ceremony later acknowledged the contribution in their remarks.
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