Following China’s sudden ban on imports of mangoes from Taiwan, Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-Chung responded to the press today, claiming that the ban has limited impact in Taiwan’s economy, since China’s export volume only accounts for 0.05% of Taiwan’s total mango production.  

On Monday (Aug 21), China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian cited that China’s customs had detected a pest named “citrus mealybugs” in mangoes shipped from Taiwan, posing a “serious threat” to China’s agricultural and ecological security. China had thus suspended the imports of Taiwan’s mangoes with immediate effect. 

This ban is widely regarded as another wave of China’s “fruit diplomacy” towards Taiwan, with which previously in 2021, China suddenly suspended the imports of pineapples after citing pests’ inspection, resulting in Taiwan’s agricultural sector suffering from a severe loss of 1.5 billion dollars, as China took up nearly 90% of Taiwan’s pineapples export market at that time.  

Regarding the ban on mango imports this time, Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-Chung said Taiwan’s annual mango production is 170,000 metric tons, with approximately 1,000 metric tons exported to China per year, roughly accounting for 0.05% of Taiwan's annual mango production.   

Chen also emphasized that Taiwanese mangos are primarily for domestic consumption, making them a fruit with “internal demand”. This has shielded the agricultural economy from being impacted by China’s imports ban, he said.

According to statistics from Ministry of Agriculture, the mango export markets have already shifted to Japan and South Korea, where the export prices for Taiwanese mangoes are significantly higher than those sold in China. The export price to China is only $1,823 per metric ton, while the export prices to Japan and South Korea are $7,930 and $6,114 per metric ton, respectively. These prices are 4 times and 3 times higher than the export price to China.

Chen said that since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, there has been a push to diversify the agricultural markets to mitigate risks associated with relying on a single market. As of August 20th this year, Taiwan’s exports to China have further decreased to below 10%. The United States and Japan are now the top two markets, with Hong Kong in the third position.

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TNL Editor: Kim Chan (@thenewslensintl)

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