Sat, Feb 16, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Agricultural exports goal set at US$6bn

EXPORTS PUSH:Last year, the nation exported 38,000 tonnes of rice and 1,700 tonnes of bananas, with this year’s targets set at 100,000 tonnes and 10,000 tonnes

By Su Meng-chuan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Workers use styrofoam netting to pack atemoya fruit for shipment in Taitung County on Jan. 3. The fruit, also known as a pineapple sugar apple, is a hybrid of the custard apple and the cherimoya.

Photo: Chang Chun-wei, Taipei Times

After an increase in the nation’s international agricultural exports last year, the Council of Agriculture is aiming for US$6 billion in sales this year.

International agricultural exports last year reached a record high of US$5.4 billion, council data showed.

Fruit exports also rose to US$1.3 billion, more than 70,000 tonnes, the council said, adding that they have risen by 25 percent over the past five years, with pineapples, custard apples and mangoes the three main exported fruits.

More than 80.9 percent of exported fruit went to China, an increase of 40 percent over the past five years, with pineapples, custard apples, citrus fruits and grapefruits comprising the majority, the council said.

Compared with 2017, exports of custard apples to China grew by 78.7 percent, or 6,800 tonnes, while pineapple exports grew by 16 percent, or 5,000 tonnes, the council said, adding that citrus fruit exports grew by nearly 60 percent, or 1,400 tonnes.

Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said that local demand was disappointing, “which is why Taiwan should push for more exports.”

Compared with the past five years, the ratio of exports sent to China was quite significant, Chen said.

“Some say that the ‘1992 consensus’ should be acknowledged so that our goods can be exported to China, yet statistics show that even without the consensus we are selling more” agricultural products, he said.

The so-called “1992 consensus” — a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted to making up in 2000 — refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party that both sides acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

The council is investigating the needs of other overseas markets in terms of quality control, pesticide regulations and logistics, Chen said.

The council would research emerging markets and help farmers sell their produce, he said.

The council is establishing agricultural produce sales platforms, which would seek to expand into foreign markets, while it is also collaborating with the Taiwan External Trade Council to host overseas exhibitions to help attract foreign interest, it said.

Taiwan Agriculture Investment Corp and MITAgri Corp are seeking to diversify their interactions with export companies, with some focusing on the Middle East, while others are looking to expand in the North American market, the council said.

Further cooperation with overseas Taiwanese chambers of commerce to meet with local importers and distributors would be required, the council said.

Joint efforts by the central and local governments to set up overseas agricultural sales companies would also be welcome, the council added.

The council has compiled a list of target markets, with Singapore top, and Hong Kong and Malaysia coming second and third.

The council is focused on rice and banana exports in these markets, it said.

Last year, the nation exported 38,000 tonnes of rice and 1,700 tonnes of bananas, the council said, adding that this year it is aiming to export 100,000 tonnes of rice and 10,000 tonnes of bananas.

Exports of citrus fruits, wax apples, grapes, mangoes and pomegranates are also being targeted, it said.

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