Mr. David Hazlehurst, Deputy Secretary of the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) and Chen Junne-jih, Deputy Minister of Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture (COA), convened a bilateral video conference on March 3, during which they signed, in Canberra and Taipei respectively, the “Taiwan-Australia Agricultural Working Group - Terms of Reference.” This agreement, building on the existing foundation of Taiwan-Australia agricultural cooperation, will provide a framework and direction for bilateral agricultural interactions. It will expand participation by industry, government, and academia, and strengthen linkages in the areas of agricultural trade, investment, and technical exchange.
The COA notes that Taiwan and Australia signed a “Memorandum of Understanding on Agricultural and Agribusiness Cooperation” in 2001, and have so far convened 16 meetings of the Agricultural Working Group. Both sides have discussed issues of bilateral concern including market access for agricultural products, trade, investment, and technology exchange, and have achieved a number of breakthroughs. In particular, in March of 2020, the Australian government approved the importation of decrowned fresh pineapples from Taiwan. After one year spent building a system of supplier farms for exporting to Australia, it is expected that the first consignment of pineapples will be shipped in May of 2021. It is hoped that the first shipment of Taiwan pineapples to Australia will go smoothly so that Australian consumers can enjoy the delicious taste of premium Golden Diamond pineapples from Taiwan. There have also been other achievements, including a Taiwan-Australia agreement on organic equivalency and the signing of a “Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation and Information Exchange Concerning Food Safety.” Also cooperation with the Australian state of Queensland to promote the cultivation of Taiwan lychee varieties and on research into disease-resistant banana seedlings are moving towards market planning and promotion.
In view of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on agricultural trade and agricultural cooperation across the globe, the agricultural authorities in Taiwan and Australia hope that through this most recent high-level dialogue and the signing of the “Agricultural Working Group - Terms of Reference”, they can create a new approach to reconnect various resources and jointly respond to the new challenges presented to agricultural authorities by the pandemic. In the future, besides holding regular government-to-government meetings, Taiwan and Australia will expand the holding of activities like forums for academia and enterprises, industrial visits, and business matchmaking, working together to build a food and agricultural products supply chain that is dependable, robust, and efficient.