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China’s trade curbs on Taiwan after Pelosi visit are drop within the ocean


Beijing’s latest trade blocks against Taiwan affect about 0.04% of their two-way trade, making them more political than economic. 

Beijing took motion against Taiwan following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island earlier this month despite warnings from Beijing. That included suspensions of imports of Taiwanese citrus, frozen fish, sweets and biscuits and exports of natural sands to Taiwan. 

Taiwan is a self-ruled democracy, but Beijing considers the island a part of its territory and a breakaway province. China says Taiwan has no right to conduct foreign relations and warned for weeks against Pelosi’s visit.

What trade numbers show

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, after arriving on the president’s office on August 3, 2022, in Taipei, Taiwan. Pelosi’s visit infuriated China, which regards the self-ruled island as its own and responded with test launches of ballistic missiles over Taipei for the primary time, in addition to ditching some lines of dialogue with Washington.

Handout | Getty Images News | Getty Images

On the subject of Taiwan’s imports from mainland China, greater than half of the $82 billion traded in 2021 were electrical machinery, electronic and technological parts in addition to nuclear reactors and boilers.

As for Taiwan’s exports to China, 65% of them were also similar goods in electrical machinery, electronic and technological parts.

Drop within the ocean

Then again, the amount of trade in areas that Beijing has targeted is comparatively small.

Exports of natural sand to Taiwan — which Beijing has targeted — were a drop within the ocean against the above figures. They amounted to about $3.5 million last 12 months, data from the Taiwanese trade bureau showed. 

They were also a small trade compared with natural sand exports from Australia and Vietnam, the most important suppliers of natural sand to Taiwan last 12 months. Together, they supplied about $64 million of the raw material utilized in construction and other industries, making up 70% of Taiwan’s purchases, in accordance with its trade bureau.

Similarly, the targeted trade of citrus was valued at a comparatively small $10 million last 12 months, though mainland China was also Taiwan’s biggest citrus buyer, Taiwan’s trade data showed.

The agricultural products now within the headlines are only a fraction of Taiwan’s export basket. And so the headline impact on Taiwan won’t really be noticeable.

Nick Marro

Economist Intelligence Unit

Other targets equivalent to Taiwan’s exports of bread, pastry, cakes and biscuits to mainland China were price greater than $50 million in total last 12 months.

Beijing’s specific suspension of two sorts of frozen fishes, horse mackerel and largehead hairtail, were valued at over $3 million in 2021, in accordance with Taiwan’s trade bureau.

“China’s economic retaliation against Taiwan is a long-standing strategy in its diplomatic playbook. That said, its decision to focus on relatively low-value trade items reflects the bounds of its economic pressure toolbox,” said global trade lead analyst on the Economist Intelligence Unit, Nick Marro. 

“It’s already had restrictions on Chinese visitors to Taiwan in place for a couple of years, which carry more economic significance; the agricultural products now within the headlines are only a fraction of Taiwan’s export basket. And so the headline impact on Taiwan won’t really be noticeable.”


Beijing’s trade suspensions against Taiwan usually are not a latest phenomenon. 

In previous years, tensions between the 2 have led to bans on mainland travelers to Taiwan.

Last 12 months, China suspended imports of Taiwanese pineapples, citing quarantine measures over “harmful creatures” that got here with the fruit. China was Taiwan’s biggest pineapple buyer as much as that time. 

Investment bank Natixis said that the recent Chinese trade restrictions focused on “highly replaceable food products” but not the data and communications technology sector through which the 2 trading partners have probably the most trade. 

The bank also said mainland China will proceed to import from Taiwan so long as it needs the products, much like what it has done in other trade conflicts equivalent to the one it has with Australia and the US.

Within the China-Australia trade dispute that began in 2020, China restricted the acquisition of some goods equivalent to barley and coal but continued to purchase iron ore from Australia, a key ingredient for China’s steel production and the bedrock of the countries’ trade. 

There might also be other fallouts from the Pelosi visit that might hurt wider regional trade. For instance, heightened military drills within the Taiwan Strait may delay shipments, analysts say. 

“The shutting down of those transport routes — even temporarily — has consequences not just for Taiwan, but in addition trade flows tied to Japan and South Korea,” Marro said. 

“It is not only a story for Taiwan and China, but in addition for his or her neighbors, as well.”

Evaluation by logistics platform Container xChange said any rerouting of shipping lines to avoid military exercises could also be problematic for the trading world because it enters peak shipping season.

Container xChange Chief Executive Christian Roeloffs said, nonetheless, that offer chains have turn out to be way more resilient over the course of the pandemic.

Customer feedback shows any rerouting of vessels away from the Taiwan Strait will add a couple of days to ship voyages, though Roeloffs doesn’t anticipate an enormous hit to logistics costs. 

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