Taiwan: Agricultural exports rise to new high of NT$85.3 billion

Taiwan’s agricultural exports from January to last month reached a new high of NT$85.3 billion (US$2.7 billion), with sales of fruit surpassing last year’s total, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said yesterday, adding that the council is eyeing new markets in Russia and the Middle East.

After last year’s agricultural exports hit a 20-year high, earning NT$164.6 billion, they made further gains in the first half of this year, Chen told a news conference in Taipei.

This year’s revenue to date came from exports of 1.16 million tonnes of produce, up 6.5 percent from the same period last year, he said, adding that rice, fresh fruit, tea, flowers and farmed fishery products were key items as exports rose 11.3 percent in the same period.

Exports of fruit generated revenue of NT$4.23 billion from January to last month, surpassing revenue of NT$4.02 billion for all of last year, council data showed.

Wax apple sales increased 88 percent from the first half last year, while ponkans (79.5 percent), bananas (70.9 percent), and pineapples and guava (both 66.4 percent) also had significant gains, the data showed.

When export prices for fruit rise, domestic prices usually follow suit, which benefits growers, Chen said.

Exports of perch and tilapia in the first half rose 59 percent and 20.7 percent respectively, council data showed.

The US-China trade dispute has had a positive effect on Taiwan’s agricultural sector, he said.

China used to be the biggest exporter of tilapia to the US, but it has been affected by heavier tariffs imposed by the US, opening the door for Taiwan to benefit, he said, adding that the nation has also been able to import US soybeans more cheaply to make animal fodder.

Instead of relying on established markets in China, Japan and the US, the council plans to expand in the Middle East, Russia and Singapore, as well as countries targeted by the New Southbound Policy, he said.

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