Taiwan registered an agricultural trade deficit of US$4.53 billion for the first nine months of this year, caused mainly by a drastic drop in exports to Japan.
However, Japan still remained the largest buyer of Taiwan's farm produce, according to statistics released by the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) yesterday.
The DGBAS quoted Council of Agriculture (COA) data as showing that from January through last month, Taiwan had exported US$2.51 billion worth of agricultural products, down 4 percent from the level for the same period last year, while imports grew 0.7 percent to US$7.03 billion.
Although the trade deficit of US$4.53 billion was up only US$0.16 billion over that for the same period last year, exports to Japan fell 21.7 percent, to a mere US$0.72 billion, the government tallies showed.
The DGBAS said that during the first three quarters, Taiwan's main agricultural exports were aquacultural and dairy products, totalling US$1.82 billion, an amount that accounted for 72.5 percent of the country's total agricultural exports.
The main agricultural imports for the period were grains and tobacco, valued at US$4.17 billion, followed by meat and other farm animal products, amounting to US$1.45 billion. These major items accounted for 79.9 percent of Taiwan's total agricultural imports.
In terms of export markets, Japan remained Taiwan's No. 1 buyer of agricultural products despite the decline over the previous year. China (including Hong Kong) and the US were the No. 2 and No. 3 markets for Taiwan's farm produce.
The US was also the No. 1 source of Taiwan's agricultural imports for the first nine months of the year, selling US$2.11 billion worth of goods to the nation, up 2.6 percent over the figure for the same period a year earlier.