Taipei, July 12 (CNA) Australian beef exports to Taiwan may drop slightly this year with the expected wider entry of US beef products, an Australian interest group said Thursday.
Meat and Livestock Australia, a non-profit organisation that helps farmers promote Australian beef around the world, forecast that Australian beef exports to Taiwan will total 31,000 tonnes for 2012, a slight decrease from the 36,700 tonnes recorded the previous year.
In 2010, Australia exported some 30,800 tonnes of beef to Taiwan but the figure rose last year on the back of reduced beef imports from the United States, said Aaron Iori, the organisation’s regional manager for South East Asia and Greater China, at a news conference in Taipei.
Last year, Taiwan refused to admit shipments of US beef containing residues of the livestock leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, which is banned in Taiwan.
However, with a strong lobby by Washington to expand American beef imports, the Taiwan government decided in March to conditionally lift the ractopamine ban.
The conditions would include setting a safe level for ractopamine residues in beef, issuing separate permits for the importation of beef and pork, mandating labeling of beef imports, and excluding imports of internal beef organs.
The decision sparked criticism among Taiwan’s opposition parties and civic groups, but a recent vote by the Codex Alimentarius Commission to allow certain levels of ractopamine in meat is expected to help the government carry out the policy.
The ractopamine issue is expected to be put to a vote during an extraordinary session of the Legislature in late July.
Iori predicted that Taiwan will increase its imports of US beef this year, which is likely to affect Australian beef exports to Taiwan.
On the question of Australian beef’s competitiveness in the market, Iori emphasized that Australia has a policy of no ractopamine use in the rearing of cattle and imposes strict regulations pertaining to farms and slaughterhouses in order to ensure food safety.
Taiwan is among the top 10 markets in the world for Australian beef products, according to Iori.
Some 40 percent of Australia’s beef shank exports are to Taiwan, where they are used to make beef noodles, he said.