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Japan Times / Biz - Money

Japanese beef brings increasing business to Taiwan restaurant chain

A restaurant chain in Taiwan has seen its business jump by at least 50 percent since it began importing Japanese beef after a ban on such beef was conditio

TAIPEI – A restaurant chain in Taiwan has seen its business jump by at least 50 percent since it began importing Japanese beef after a ban on such beef was conditionally lifted less than a month ago.

The Kanpai Group, the first importer of Japanese beef since the ban was lifted on Sept. 18, has so far received two shipments from an exporter in Miyazaki Prefecture.

While the first shipment was distributed to its business customers such as the Regent Hotel and Breeze Center supermarkets, most of the second shipment went to the group’s barbeque restaurants and hot pot eateries across the island.

This month alone, the group has seen its business grow by as much as 60 percent compared to the same period last year, according to the group’s spokeswoman Connie Liao.

Liao attributed the significant jump to increased demand during the long Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, which is traditionally a good time for barbecue.

Japanese beef is about 1.5 to two times more expensive than Australian beef at the group’s restaurants, she said. Following the first two shipments, she said the group plans to import between 500 kg and 1,000 kg of Japanese beef per week.

With the increasing popularity of Japanese beef, Liao estimated that business at the group’s restaurants will grow by 10 percent to 20 percent this year.

Japan was Taiwan’s second-largest supplier of agricultural products last year in terms of value.

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has set a target of raising the export value of agricultural, forestry and fishery products to ¥1 trillion ($8.9 billion) in 2019.

To that end, efforts have been made to expand Japanese exports of priority products such as tea, rice, flowers, vegetables, fruits and beef.

Regarding Japan’s beef trade with the United States, Tokyo’s recently activated emergency import restrictions on frozen beef, which have provoked a backlash from Washington, are expected to be high on the agenda when the two countries hold a second session of their economic dialogue in the U.S. capital on Monday.

Japan is expected to seek U.S. acceptance of the safeguard measure by highlighting its readiness to make operational improvements.

Another focal point will be whether the two countries can produce specific results on bilateral economic cooperation. The two sides are seen agreeing to promote U.S. liquefied natural gas exports to Asia and to strengthen bilateral cooperation on infrastructure development in the United States.

Ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to Japan next month, it is uncertain whether a possible Japan-U.S. free trade agreement will be discussed in the Washington session.

In the economic dialogue, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as finance minister, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will serve as their respective sides’ representatives.

The bilateral session will follow a meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs in the U.S. capital for two days from Thursday.