Nebraska Lt. Governor Rick Sheehy signed a trade agreement last week with a Taiwanese company for the sale of bio-plastics made from corn. The letter of intent, signed by the chairman of Wei Mon Industry Co. Ltd. and Sheehy, pledges the purchase of up to $55 million in corn-based resins by the end of 2013.
"Taiwan is a key market for bio-materials as its government has set specific targets for reduction of conventional plastics," Lt. Gov. Sheehy said. "This is a growing segment of the marketplace that is especially valuable because not only are we exporting corn, but also the additional value that comes from turning that corn into plastic before it leaves Nebraska."
Sheehy was among a Nebraska trade delegation to Taiwan and Hong Kong that is set to wrap up Aug. 17.
He also cited progress on another critical issue as he met with members of the Taiwanese government's Ministry of Health and Ministry of Economic Affairs to discuss ongoing beef export concerns. Taiwan is a large market for Nebraska beef, receiving $54 million worth of product in 2010. However, within the past year, Ministry of Health officials have raised questions and concerns about some feeding practices commonly conducted at beef feedlots in Nebraska and across the United States.
"It was important to have an open, face-to-face dialogue on this issue on behalf of our beef production industry," Sheehy said. "I felt we had a positive discussion and am hopeful that beef exports to this critical market will be able to return to normal soon."
The Lt. Governor also held talks with members of the Taiwan Flour Millers Association, following up on a trade agreement signed by a Nebraska delegation to Taiwan last year for an estimated $500 million in corn, soybeans and wheat exports.
The Lt. Governor was accompanied in Taiwan by Stan Garbacz, the agricultural trade representative for the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. Other members of the trade delegation joined Sheehy in Hong Kong, including Nebraska Agriculture Director Greg Ibach, University of Nebraska Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources Ronnie Green, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Animal Science Professor Chris Calkins, and Pilger cattleman J.D. Alexander.
After Sheehy returns to Nebraska, the rest of the delegation will travel to Beijing, China, Aug. 18-20, where the focus will be on dry edible bean export development and opportunities for educational collaboration.
In 2010, Hong Kong was Nebraska's sixth largest agricultural trade partner, and Taiwan was the state's seventh largest.