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Taiwan’s authorities say Beijing’s ban on grouper imports from the island is politically motivated to ramp up pressure on Taiwan. Photo: Shutterstock

Beijing’s ban on Taiwanese grouper imports prompts emergency measures to help island’s fish farmers

  • Beijing cites discovery of banned chemicals and excessive oxytetracycline when announcing suspension of imports of Taiwan’s grouper effective from Monday
  • Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen says Beijing’s move is a breach of normal trade practices, and the island will not rule out going to the WTO
Taiwan has jump-started contingency measures to try to help cushion its farmers from the impact of Beijing’s ban on Taiwanese grouper imports as relations deteriorate further across the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing announced on Friday it would suspend imports of grouper fish – a high-value aquaculture product in Taiwan – from the island effective from Monday.

Citing the discovery of banned chemicals and excessive levels of oxytetracycline in the fish imported from Taiwan since December, China’s General Administration of Customs said the suspension was necessary to “prevent risks and protect the health and lives of consumers” on the mainland.


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Taiwan negotiator appeals to US to not forget Taipei’s free trade deal hopes
The island’s authorities cried foul, saying the ban was politically motivated to ramp up pressure on Taiwan, akin to its actions last year when Beijing suspended imports of pineapple and other kinds of fruit.
“China once again made an abrupt announcement to unilaterally suspend grouper imports from Taiwan, yet another violation of international trade rules, which would not help normal trade activities across the strait and would serve only to hurt bilateral relations,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said in a post on Facebook at the weekend.

She condemned Beijing for deliberately targeting the island’s aquaculture industry because the suspension was not in line with normal international practice of returning or destroying the shipment in question, followed by talks between the trading partners.

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She said that after Beijing said three samples contained illegal residue last year, Taiwan provided scientific evidence that the imported fish all met international standards but mainland authorities did not respond.

“The Chinese practice has already violated the normal practices of international trade and border inspection … we would not rule out taking the issues to the World Trade Organization,” Tsai said.

The president said she had instructed the island’s agriculture minister to introduce contingency measures to help Taiwanese farmers affected by the ban and that she believed the island would once again overcome the challenges following Beijing’s ban on imports of Taiwanese pineapples, wax apples and sugar apples last year.


Abalone harvest season starts off China’s eastern coast

Abalone harvest season starts off China’s eastern coast

Under the new measures, Taiwanese agricultural authorities would devise different schemes, including increasing online business platforms and other means to expand domestic market channels for the grouper farmers, a spokeswoman for the ministry’s Fisheries Agency said.

“Others include setting up cold-chain logistics to help the farmers sell frozen grouper to overseas markets, offering feed subsidies and low-interest loans to the farmers,” she said.

Taiwan raised some 16,940 tonnes of grouper in 2021 and exported 6,681 tonnes worth NT$1.68 billion (US$56.6 million), with 91 per cent bound for the mainland, according to the agency.

The remainder went to Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and the United States.

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Cross-strait relations have soured further since Tsai, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, was elected president in 2016 and refused to accept Beijing’s one-China principle.

Beijing – which views Taiwan as its own and does not renounce the use of force against the island – has repeatedly felt agitated by Tsai’s siding with the US in recent years to counter the mainland. It has sent numerous sorties to the island’s air defence identification zone and staged war games nearby to ramp up pressure on the island.