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Taiwan may reduce its pork tariff

By RICHARD SMITH

For the Capital Press

To alleviate a pork shortage due to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and halt inflation initiated by rising pork prices, Taiwan is considering reducing its tariff from 12.5 to 6.25 percent.

Because of the use of ractopamine, U.S. pork will benefit little from a Taiwan Council of Agriculture proposal to allow in 3,000 tons of foreign pork per month at half the import tariff.

Canadian pork may profit more, depending on circumstances in other countries. Ractopamine is a feed additive that promotes leanness in pork.

To alleviate a pork shortage due to porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and halt inflation initiated by rising pork prices, the COA would negotiate with the Ministry of Finance to lower the tariff from 12.5 to 6.25 percent, COA Deputy Minister Wen-Te Chen said at a March 12 question-and-answer session at a meeting of the Economics Committee of the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament, the Taipei Times reported.

“The price increase has been caused because pork suppliers are expecting prices to increase as the result of an outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea from October last year to the beginning of this month, which killed 220,000 piglets,” Chen said, the Taipei Times reported.

The market price of pork has risen to NT$82 (US$2.70) per kilo from the regular seasonal price of NT$60-65 (US $1.98-$2.14) per kilo, the Central News Agency reported.

Chen said the COA commissioned the National Animal Industry Foundation to conduct the imports. The NAIF would store some of the pork to minimize the impact on the local pork market, the Taipei Times reported.

The newspaper reported, however, the COA would not lower its zero-ractopamine policy imported pork.

Chen said the COA would also coordinate with state-run Taiwan Sugar Corp., originally a sugar-exporting company that has since diversified, to increase local pork supply by 3,000 pigs this month, the Taipei Times reported.

Taiwan media also reported investigations will be carried out to determine whether meat markets and frozen meat companies are hoarding pork to drive up prices.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation Taiwan director Davis Wu told Capital Press that from his standpoint, the pork import increase and tariff reduction will not significantly benefit U.S. pork, because of Taiwan’s zero-tolerance policy for ractopamine in the meat.

Purchasing ractopamine-free U.S. pork would not be an option for buyers and consumers because of its high price, Wu said. “It benefits to Canada, always,” he said.

Canada Pork International president Jacques Pomerleau echoed Wu, telling Capital Press the majority of Canada’s pork production is ractopamine-free, and his country implemented a protocol to guarantee ractopamine-free exports.

Pomerleau noted PED reduced the U.S.’s pork production by 5 to 8 percent, whereas Canada, relatively untouched by the disease, has a strong export-to-Taiwan potential, as the ractopamine issue reduced Canadian exports there 47 percent from 38,000 tons in 2009 to 20,000 tons in 2012.

“There are only two big pork exporters left in the world, Canada and the European Union,” Pomerleau said.

By how much then could Canada increase its exports to Taiwan? Impossible to answer, as other trade variables must be factored in, Pomerleau said.

As Russia has excluded European pork hit by African swine fever, European exporters may want to focus on filling the Taiwan quota, he said.

And China may increase its pork demand, making that market even more attractive despite Taiwan’s tariff reduction, Pomerleau said.

Thomas Tseng, director of the agricultural products subcomittee of the Importers and Exporters Association of Taiwan, the largest trade associaton in Taiwan which includes 23 meat-importing companies, told Capital Press price is the main issue.

“Importers, retailers and consumers care more about whether prices will increase,” said Tseng, founder and general manager of Game Meat International, a Taipei beef and lamb importing company.



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