The US and Japan replaced China as the largest buyers of Taiwanese agricultural goods in the first half of this year, the Council of Agriculture said on Tuesday as is spoke of its market diversification strategy.
The three largest buyers of Taiwanese agricultural products were the US, Japan and China between January and last month, which respectively accounted for 18.6 percent, 16.4 percent and 13.7 percent of the exported goods, the council said.
Taiwan exported 948,000 tonnes of agricultural goods in the first six months of this year, 13.6 percent less than the 1,0970,000 tonnes in the same period last year, the council said.
The value of agricultural exports in the first half was NT$2.62 billion (US$87.58 million), 5.5 percent less than NT$277 billion in the same period last year.
Exports with the most significant growth in the US market were fruit, fruit juices, tea, cassava starch, pastries and snacks, with export volumes increasing by up to 40 percent, it said.
The overall drop in exports was the result of climate-related instabilities in production, said Lin Chih-hung (林志鴻), deputy director-general of the council’s Department of International Affairs.
The high costs of global shipping caused by the COVID-19 pandemic accounted for the remainder of the decline, he said.
China’s bans on Taiwanese fruit and farm-raised fish damaged local sectors that had long relied on China as their most important overseas buyer, Lin said, adding that the council remains optimistic that it can find alternative markets in the second half of the year.
Formerly Taiwan’s largest agricultural trade partner, China accounted for more than 20 percent of the sector’s exports from 2015 to last year.
The pattern changed in the first half of this year as China’s share of Taiwan’s fruit exports plummeted from 84 percent to 1.8 percent amid concerns about risks in its market.
Taiwan is gradually weaning itself off the Chinese market, a move largely motivated by the high levels of uncertainty created by Beijing, said Roy Chun Lee (李淳), senior deputy CEO of the Taiwan WTO & RTA Center at the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research.
Taiwan’s growth in exports to the US, Japan and Europe is beneficial to the development of Taiwan’s agricultural sector, and helps avoid political risks, he said.
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