Government to help firms affected by partial Chinese import ban

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) on Sunday said it will use sales promotions, financing and professional training programs to help companies affected by China's move to suspend imports of more products from Taiwan.

The latest ban covers over 100 Taiwanese companies selling fishery products, as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, which Beijing claims have failed to submit or incorrectly filled in documents needed to comply with new customs registration rules.

Taiwan, for its part, has argued that the companies are in compliance with the rules, and threatened to file a complaint against Beijing with the World Trade Organization (WTO) for using administrative means to disrupt normal trade relations.

At a press conference Sunday, Deputy Economic Minister Chen Chern-chyi (???) said the ministry is planning to use programs such as the Bureau of Foreign Trade's Taiwan Global Food Initiative to help firms affected by the ban.

According to Chen, the program, which was launched in August, helps local food and beverage companies gain access to foreign markets through seller-buyer matching, and by facilitating their attendance at international food exhibitions.

In addition to these more direct measures, the initiative also trains companies in digital marketing, advertising and obtaining international certifications, thus making them more competitive abroad, Chen said.

To date, the program has helped nearly 1,700 firms access NT$1.75 billion (US$56.9 million) in business opportunities, he said.

Taiwan's government announced Thursday that Chinese authorities had halted shipments from Taiwanese exporters of squid, Pacific saury and fourfinger threadfin, which was followed on Saturday with suspensions targeting multiple alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage makers.

As of Saturday night, China's General Administration of Customs website showed that imports from 2,409 Taiwanese food and beverage companies were "temporarily suspended," -- many dating from previous moves over the past two years -- while 31 were permanently suspended and 792 were listed as having a valid registration.

During the press conference, Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Wu Shou-mei (???) said that of the firms facing suspension, around 1,800 have said they do not intend to submit additional supporting documents.

Wu criticized China for its "lack of transparency" in the customs registration process, saying Taiwan was not given a point of contact on the issue and could only communicate its positions in writing.

According to a response received from the Chinese side on Friday, the "invalid" customs registrations of Taiwanese firms falls into seven major categories.

The most common reasons given were "documents do not meet specifications" (621 companies), "manufacturing license does not meet specifications" (499 companies), and "company application does not meet specifications" (396 companies), according to Wu.

In terms of the impact of the suspensions, Chen, citing data from the Ministry of Finance, said Taiwanese exports of squid, Pacific saury and fourfinger threadfin to China in 2021 totaled US$166.5 million.

Meanwhile, Taiwan sold US$250 million in alcoholic beverages and US$43.4 million in non-alcoholic beverages to China in 2021, though currently Beijing has only partially suspended imports of these products, he said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel