Mainland bans Taiwan pineapple from March over biosafety issue
Published: Feb 26, 2021 08:43 PM

A farmer in Kaohsiung harvests pineapples in March 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)

Chinese mainland's latest import ban on pineapples from Taiwan will hit the island's pineapple industry hard, which highly depends on the mainland market, said industry insiders from both sides of the Taiwan Straits reached by the Global Times on Friday.

Starting March 1, mainland customs will suspend pineapple importation from Taiwan after having frequently detected quarantine pests on the tropical fruit coming from Taiwan since 2020, reported a notice published on the website of the General Administration of Customs (GAC) on Friday.

The import suspension, as a normal biosafety precaution measure, is scientific and reasonable, in line with the relevant laws and standards of the mainland, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Friday.

Pineapple exporters in Taiwan told the Global Times that they'd noticed the ban, which will bring them "foreseeable losses."

"It [the ban] definitely has affected us," said a fruit exporter based in Meinong district in Kaohsiung. "We're going to hold meetings to discuss how to deal with it," she told the Global Times on Friday.

Declining to give an exact proportion, the exporter said the mainland market makes up "a very large part" of her pineapple exports.

The mainland has long been Taiwan's most vital pineapple export destination. Taiwan exported 41,661 tons of fresh pineapples to the mainland in 2020, accounting for 91 percent of the island's total pineapple exports that year, according to statistics from the "Council of Agriculture."

The mainland's import suspension creates nearly TWD 1.5 billion ($53.9 million) of loss to Taiwan, estimated Taiwan media on Friday.

It nonetheless does little hurt to the mainland's pineapple market, where Taiwan-exported pineapples only account for a negligible part, industry insiders told the Global Times.

Data showed that the mainland produced 1.72 million tons of pineapples in 2019, 33 times more than the 51,112 tons that it imported from Taiwan that year.

A pineapple wholesaler in South China's Hainan Province, one of the mainland's major pineapple-growing regions, said that most mainland wholesalers, including him, have shifted from importing pineapples from Taiwan to purchasing the fruit from local growers in the past two or three years.

The two kinds of pineapples taste the same, as the mainland growers use Taiwan seeds, said the wholesaler surnamed Liao. "But my cost decreased by nearly a half after replacing Taiwan's pineapples with the mainland's," Liao told the Global Times on Friday.

Taiwan, therefore, has a deep, unidirectional dependence on the mainland's economy, and "this situation won't easily change in the future," Tang Yonghong, deputy director of Taiwan Research Center at Xiamen University, told the Global Times.

The mainland remained Taiwan's largest export market in 2020, accounting for 43.8 percent of the region's total exports that year, the highest level in the past decade. The proportion was followed by the US' 14.7 percent, Taiwan media reported.