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Taiwan fare sizzles at Singapore food, hotel expo

SINGAPORE -- Taiwanese food and beverage firms were represented at the 19th Food and Hotel Asia (FHA) trade fair that opened Tuesday at Singapore's Expo Convention and Exhibition Center, with a display booth featuring alcoholic drinks, halal food and deep ocean products, an event organizer said.

Held every two years, the FHA is the largest international food trade show in Asia. This year, it has brought together more than 3,000 companies from 64 countries.

The Taiwan booth, organized by the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Bureau of Foreign Trade and the semi-official Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), is the third-largest at the expo, attracting the participation of 99 Taiwanese enterprises, compared with 72 in the last show, said TAITRA Deputy Secretary-General Ye Ming-shui.

Taiwan's alcohol exports to Singapore are expected to benefit from a free trade agreement between the two countries titled the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP), which will come into effect April 19, because they will be entitled to duty-free treatment under the pact, Ye said.

Meanwhile, Chen Yung-ching, the head of a distributor of the Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp. in Singapore, said that given that Singapore has recently raised alcohol taxes, Taiwan's liquor distributors in Singapore are looking to the ASTEP to help their competitiveness in the Singaporean market.

In addition, since several countries in Southeast Asia such as Malaysia and Indonesia are predominantly Muslim, the region offers huge consumer market potential for halal food products. Twenty-seven of the Taiwanese companies participating in the fair have halal certification, according to the event organizers.

Touching on the increasing popularity of deep ocean products in recent years, Ye said that the special seabed bathymetry off Taiwan's east coast makes it one of the few places in the world other than Japan and Hawaii that can exploit highly valued deep ocean water.

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