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The COA Reiterates Putting Farmers and Fishermen’s Livelihood as Top Priority in Cross-Straits Good Trade Agreement Negotiations


  The Council of Agriculture stated on Dec. 10 that the government has never open any item of restricted agro-fishery product imported from China to Taiwan since President Ma came to power on May 20, 2008. This shows the government’s determination in upholding the development of Taiwan’s agriculture as well as farmers’ and fishermen’s livelihood. During the Cross-Strait Goods Trade Agreement negotiation, the COA will follow the principle and negotiate actively to obtain preferential tariff for agro-fishery products exporting to China. Moreover, the government will continue to restrict the agro-products imported from China, which are closely related to food safety and farmers and fishermen's livelihood, including several coastal and cultivated aquatic products concerned by the fishery industry. The government promised that the benefits of the farmers and fishermen would not be sacrificed for the sake of signing the Agreement.

   When President Ma assumed office in 2008, there were 2,245 (10-digit HS Code) agricultural products, 830 of them were not allowed imported from China, whereas 1,415 products were allowed. Of those 1,415 products, 936 items were opened for import from China during the previous President Chen’s administration (May 20, 2000 to May 20, 2008), such as the Pacific saury, bass, peeled shrimp, radish, chili pepper, sweet pepper, peanut butter, and baby milk powder opened on Feb. 15, 2002, the pet food on March 13, 2003 and Pu-erh tea on Sept. 7, 2004.

   The COA pointed out that even though Taiwan has restricted the import of some agricultural products from China after accessing the WTO, China still granted the "most favored nation" (MFN) treatment to Taiwan regarding the food trade. Besides, China has granted zero-tariff preferential treatment for 34 agro-fishery products imported from Taiwan since 2005. In addition, when signing the ECFA in June 2010, China added 18 agricultural products such as Taiwanese tea, grouper, Pacific saury to the early-harvest list. Benefiting from such preferential treatment given by China, and Taiwan government’s effort in expanding the Chinese market, the long period of agricultural products trade deficit with China has turned to a surplus of US$14 million since 2013. Moreover, During January to November in 2015, Taiwan’s trade surplus with China in agricultural products has expanded to US$100 million, making China becoming Taiwan’s largest exporting market of agricultural products since 2013.

   The COA stated that in recent years the average annual export of Taiwan’s frozen skipjack tuna and squid to China both surpassed US$10 million, for which China still imposes tariff rate of 12%. For the ornamental fish industry, which Taiwan has been actively developing, China imposes as high as 17.5% tariff rate. Malabar chestnut (China’s tariff rate is 10%), orchid (10%), and soft-shell turtle (10%) are also very important for Taiwan’s farmers and fishermen. Asking China to eliminate the tariff rates of these products described above through the Goods Agreement will lower the cost of Taiwan’s exporters and increase the benefits of Taiwan’s farmers and fishermen.

   During the negotiation process, China highly concerned the restriction measure taken by Taiwan for some China’s agricultural products, and wished Taiwan to grant the same treatment for China as for other WTO members. In this issue, for the products relating to the welfare and livelihood of farmers and fishermen, Taiwan would maintain the restriction measure. The COA emphasized that the government would negotiate to gain preferential tariffs for agricultural and fishery products with great export potential. The government will also continue to work for expanding the Chinese market and increase the benefits of farmer and fisherman. For the agricultural industries which might be affected by the Agreement, the authorities would develop a suitable solution and provide enough funding for the “Fund of subsidies for the damage agricultural industry caused by imported agricultural products”. By these measures, Taiwan will increase the agricultural industry competitiveness and implement price stabilization and other necessary measures, to ensure that the livelihood of the farmers and fishermen would not be affected by the Agreement and the sustainable development of the agro-fishery industry in Taiwan.