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Remarks by AIT Director Douglas H. Paal Taipei International Food Show Opening Ceremony

BG0512E | Date: 2005-06-16

Good morning Chairman Hsu, Deputy Minister Hu, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a pleasure to be here today at the opening of the 2005 Taipei International Food Show.

I am impressed with the number of exhibitors and buyers who have turned out today, and can see that Taiwan continues to have a very vibrant and innovative food industry.

This food show is an important annual event for U.S. food exporters and an opportunity for Taiwan to become better acquainted with the wide variety of quality, healthful and highly competitive food products available today from the United States.

Once again, the U.S. Pavilion is the largest pavilion at this show and every year we have set new exhibitor attendance records.  This year, I am especially happy to announce that the USA Pavilion comprises 84 booths!  This means that the Taipei International Food Show is host to the second largest USA food show pavilion in Asia and is the fourth largest contingent of US food exhibitors in the world.  My congratulations to TAITRA for organizing a trade show that clearly is extremely attractive to U.S. companies.

The relationship between the United States and Taiwan in agricultural and food products trade runs long and deep.  The United States is - and remains - the island's largest supplier of agricultural produce.  $2.2 billion dollars worth of U.S. agricultural products were purchased by Taiwan last year, finding their way onto Taiwanese tables in one form or another.  In fact, the United States regularly supplies one-third of Taiwan's total food import needs.  But the partnership is mutual.  The United States is one of the Taiwan agricultural sector's most important export markets and last year we purchased a full 10 percent of the island's food exports.

To the long list of staple products that Taiwan buys from the United States, including high quality U.S. meat, soybeans, fresh fruit and vegetables, Taiwan is increasingly looking to the United States to supply high value ingredient and processed retail products.  A walk through the USA Pavilion - located, as usual, at the heart of the show - demonstrates just how international the market here has become. The sixty U.S. companies participating in this year's show offer an impressive array of products, including high quality U.S. cheese, rice, fruits and vegetables, snacks, syrups, gourmet sauces, poultry products, fine luncheon meats, and of course U.S. beef.  I am particularly pleased that U.S. beef is back on the menu in Taiwan and that, this year, there are 9 U.S. firms eager to give you a taste of why American beef is truly one-of-a-kind.   The return of American beef after a 15-month absence from the Taiwan market demonstrates the excellent working relationship and cooperation that exists between Taiwan authorities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  While there has been a lot of media attention to the safety of beef this week, the simple fact is that American beef exported to Taiwan has been and continues to be 100% safe.

We are fortunate to have an Agricultural Trade Office here in Taiwan as part of the American Institute in Taiwan.  Our ATO staff is here full time to serve as the bridge linking fine American food products with Taiwan's food industry.  In addition to helping American companies with market research and marketing support through activities such as the Taipei International Food Show, our specialists are charged with helping to forge relationships between U.S. suppliers and Taiwan companies.  Please take a moment to meet with the ATO staff during the show or give them a call afterward to discuss how we can assist you.

Once again, it is a pleasure to be at the 2005 Taipei International Food Show and to participate in this opening event.  I look for great things to come out of this show and for you all to take the opportunity to take a look at - and taste - the excellent American products on display here this year.

Thank you.