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Joining WTO Enhances Competitiveness of Taiwan Agriculture


Ten Years after Joining WTO, Taiwan’s Total Agricultural Output Grows 20% and Export Value Increases31%

Since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2002 Taiwan has been able to export agricultural products to the international market under fairer and more reasonable conditions, said the Council of Agriculture (COA). To reduce the impact of joining the WTO, the Council drew up a budget of NT$100 billion in 2003 as relief funds for damage to local agricultural products by imports, and has actively promoted international marketing of local agricultural products and adjusted agricultural structure to enhance competitiveness. Thus, 10 years after joining the WTO Taiwan’s total agricultural output had not declined and, for instance, even grew 20% to NT$426.3 billion in 2010. Although Taiwanhas to open its market after joining the WTO, it has also created the opportunity for the country to export agricultural products, enabling Taiwan products to enter the markets of other WTO member countries with the most-favored-nation treatment while removing export barriers through bilateral and multilateral arrangements. Because the COA has actively promoted agricultural product in foreign market program, export value of Taiwanagricultural products totaled US$4.02 billion (NT$120.6 billion) in 2010, growing 31% as compared with US$3.03 billion (NT$90.9 billion) in 2001 when Taiwan was not a member of the WTO. The 2010 export value also represented an increase of 17% over US$3.43 billion (NT$102.9 billion) in 2007. As of the end of November 2011, the export of agricultural products totaled US$4.28 billion (NT$128.4 billion), increasing 17% over the same period of 2010.

Excellent Exports of Phalaenopsis Orchids after Removing Barriers through Bilateral Negotiations

The COA said that after joining the WTO Taiwan has effectively removed export barriers through bilateral negotiations with countries of its export market. For instance, the United States agreed in 2004 to import Taiwan Phalaenopsis orchids with medium, effectively lowering operating costs by reducing the loss rate of bare-root orchids from 25% to 5% and decreasing the orchids’ rehabilitation period from two months to three weeks. The export of Phalaenopsis orchids totaled US$82.55 million (NT$2.5 billion) in 2010, increasing 253% over 2004. In addition, both Australia and New Zealand agreed in 2011 to accept the export of Taiwan Phalaenopsis orchids with medium, laying a solid foundation for Taiwan to export the orchids to the southern hemisphere.

Export of Taiwan Agricultural Products to China Significantly Increases Due to Signing of ECFA and Other Beneficial Cross-strait Policies

Due to several beneficial cross-strait policies, Chinabecame the second largest market of Taiwan agricultural products in 2010, next only to Japan, noted the Council. The export of Taiwan agricultural products to China totaled US$530 million (NT$15.9 billion) in 2010, increasing 23% over 2007, with the cross-strait farm produce trade deficit being narrowed from US$280 million (NT$8.4 billion) in 2007 to US$130 million (NT$3.9 billion) in 2010. Between January and November 2011 Taiwanexported agricultural products valuing at US$590 million (NT$17.7 billion) to China , 24% more than the same period of 2010. Although Chinaand Taiwansigned the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) in June 2010, Taiwancontinued its import control of 830 items of China ’s agricultural products and did not lower tariff rates on 1,415 items of mainland agricultural products being allowed to export to Taiwan previously. However, Chinese authorities gave 18 items of Taiwan agricultural products early harvest preferential treatment without attaching any conditions. The export of Taiwan agricultural products on the ECFA early harvest list totaled US$107.07 million (NT$32 billion) between January and November 2011, growing 135% as compared with the same period of 2010. Among the early harvest agricultural products, the export of live grouper, tea and fresh soft-shelled turtle egg increased 161%, 51% and 19% respectively, showing that the effects of signing the ECFA have gradually emerged.

Establishing Cross-strait Negotiation Platform to Ensure Interests of Taiwan Agriculture

The COA explained that the opening of cross-strait direct transport in 2008 has reduced both transportation time and costs for Taiwanagricultural products exported to China . The signing of the Cross-strait Agreement on Agricultural Product Quarantine and Inspection Cooperation has removed export quarantine and inspection barriers. For example, the export of fresh and refrigerated fruits to China totaled US$10.22 million (NT$310 million) in 2010, increasing 420% over 2007. And the export of pineapple, pomelo and sugar apple to China has increased considerably from almost zero. After live fish shipping vessels were allowed to sail directly to 15 Chinese harbors in March 2010 and June 2011, the volume and value of groupers exported to China grew to 4,159 metric tons valuing at US$42.07 million (NT$1.26 billion) in 2010. As China lowered the tariff rate on imported groupers was lowered to 5% on January 1, 2011, as of the end of November 6,865 tons of groupers totaling US$89.78 million (NT$2.69 billion) were exported to China, increasing 98% and 161% over the same period of 2010 respectively. The Cross-strait Agreement on Cooperation in Fishing Crew Affairs signed in 2009 safeguards the interests and rights of Taiwanfishing crew, while the Cross-strait Cooperation Agreement on Intellectual Property Right Protection signed in 2010 protects such agricultural intellectual property rights as Taiwan plant varieties, patents and trademarks. Chinahas already put Taiwan Phalaenopsis orchids under new variety protection, and CAS Taiwan premium agricultural product and organic agricultural product labels completed registration procedures in China in April 2011. The government has achieved the goal of safeguarding the interests of Taiwan agriculture through the establishment of the cross-strait negotiation platform and the signing of relevant cooperation agreements. (2011-12-26 )