Building on last year’s visit, the Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission returned to the United States and significantly increased its commitment to US soybean purchases, to the benefit of farmers in Minnesota and Iowa. On September 26th in Washington DC, the Taiwan mission signed a letter of intent to increase soybean purchases by 30%. Present at the ceremony was the U.S. Soybean Export Council as well as 11 Congressional Representatives from 8 states: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA), Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS), Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS), Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ). Additional signing ceremonies were held in Minnesota and Iowa over the following week.
The letter of intent, signed by the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association Chairman and head of the Trade Mission Yau-Kuen Hung, commits Taiwan to buying up to 3.9 million metric tons of soybeans from the Midwest from 2018 to 2019, valued at $1.56 billion. According to the U.S. Soybean Export Council, the increased purchase boosts the US share of Taiwan’s soybean market to nearly 90% and if fully realized, 75% of Taiwan’s total soybean purchases would come from Iowa, representing nearly 25% of Iowa’s total soybean production.
This visit is the latest indicator of the continued and deepening trade relationship between Taiwan and the United States. In 2017, one fourth of Taiwan’s agricultural imports were from the US, valued at $3.7 billion. From 1998 to 2017, 11 goodwill missions from Taiwan to the United States resulted in $32 billion in Taiwanese imports of US agricultural goods. At the state level, Taiwan is Minnesota’s sixth-largest export market, with goods exports valued at $551,177,681 in 2016. Iowa’s exports to Taiwan were valued at $280,673,262 in 2016.
Jonathan Banasihan is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington. He is an undergraduate student at American University majoring in International Studies, concentrating in Foreign Policy and National Security in East Asia.