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Taiwan buys 6 million tons of soybeans

October 5, 2018

ST. PAUL — Taiwanese trade and business officials signed a letter of intent last week to purchase more than 6 million metric tons of soybeans from farmers in Minnesota and Iowa over the next two years, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton announced.

Confirmed Thursday at the Minnesota Governor’s Residence, the letter of intent says the Taiwanese Agricultural Trade Goodwill delegation plans to purchase between 3.2 million and 3.9 million metric tons of soybeans in 2018 and 2019, valued at an estimated $1.56 billion.

“Minnesota’s trade relations with countries around the world, including Taiwan, are critical to helping our farmers sell their products in the global marketplace,” Dayton said. “With the USDA predicting the largest U.S. soybean crop ever, these export opportunities are vitally important.”

Taiwan is Minnesota’s 11th-largest export market, and 13th-largest export market for Iowa. The country is a growing consumer of vegetable oils and a key trading partner for U.S. agricultural products.

“The U.S. remains one of Taiwan’s largest trade partners for agricultural products,” said Yau-Kuen Hung, chairman of the Taiwan Vegetable Oil Manufacturers Association. “The Goodwill Mission plays an important role in strengthening the trade relations between our countries and ensuring Taiwan is able to purchase high quality soybeans grown in Minnesota.”

The deal comes before the harvest of what is expected to be a near-record soybean crop in both states. Last year, Minnesota farmers harvested 308.2 million bushels of soybeans and Iowa harvested 561.5 million bushels.

Both states are among the nation’s top soybean producers and have sold millions of bushels to China. That market has slowed considerably as the United States and China continue to slap increasing tariffs on each other’s goods.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson said the state has worked hard to establish relationships with Taiwan, and that it’s paying off in the form of market opportunities for farmers in the Midwest.

Last Thursday’s visit is the result of a recent trade mission by Minnesota agriculture officials to Taiwan this summer.

Minnesota Soybean CEO Tom Slunecka traveled to Taiwan in July with a Department of Agriculture-sponsored trade team, in hopes of driving more sales for agricultural commodities in the state.

Taiwan and Minnesota have a history of agricultural trade agreements. In January 2013, Frederickson led a mission to Taiwan to personally extend an invitation to the 2013 Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission to visit Minnesota and sign letters of intent to purchase soybeans. Goodwill Missions have been organized by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1998.

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