The United States and Taiwan have long been partners in agricultural trade. Over the years, 13 Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Missions have visited the United States, beginning in 1998. The Mission’s goal is to set up agricultural trade agreements with different states, benefiting both Taiwan and the United States. US farmers benefit from the increase in trade, and the Taiwanese receive much needed, high-quality agricultural products.
The Mission last visited Kentucky in 2015. At that time, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear along with US and Taiwanese representatives of the corn and soybean industries signed Letters of Intent for future purchases of US farm products for two years.
From September 16-18, 2022, the Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission visited Kentucky once more to renew this agreement. They signed Letters of Intent stating Taiwan will continue to purchase millions of tons of Kentucky corn and soybean products throughout 2023 and 2024.
Taiwan is one of biggest importers of agricultural products from the United States. In 2020, 29% of Taiwan’s agricultural imports came from the United States. The Letters of Intent signed in September will ensure that this continues. In the agreement, the Taiwan Feed Industry Association has agreed to purchase 59 million bushels of corn from the United States at a cost between $1.9 billion and $2.1 billion. Further, the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association will purchase between 96 million and 107 million bushels of soybeans, valued between $1.9 billion and $2.1 billion. These purchases will greatly benefit Kentucky farmers.
During their time in Kentucky, the delegation from Taiwan visited four farms, an agribusiness, and a bourbon distillery, along with attending a Kentucky Bourbon Festival. At an official signing ceremony, representatives from Kentucky’s corn and soybean associations, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, and Taiwan signed the Letters of Intent.
This deal is exciting for Kentucky and Taiwan, but also for the farmers in Kentucky who will reap the benefits of this agreement. Kentucky has made a name for growing high-quality, high-protein soybeans, and these farmers rely on trade for their success. An agreement such as this can increase the global standing of Kentucky agricultural products, increasing their value and helping Kentucky farmers.
Travis Cole is a participant in the Young Professionals Program at the East-West Center in Washington DC. Obtaining his BA from Sichuan University, he is now a second-year graduate student at the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School, studying International Development and Diplomacy.