Yen and Brothers CEO Jay Yen: China could lift ban on Taiwanese products by next year

Yen and Brothers CEO Chihchieh (Jay) Yen
Yen and Brothers CEO Chihchieh (Jay) Yen | Photo by Cliff White/SeafoodSource
6 Min

Taiwan’s seafood exporters are expecting China to lift its ban on Taiwanese seafood products later this year or in 2025, according to Yen and Brothers CEO Chihchieh (Jay) Yen.

China began imposing restrictions on Taiwanese seafood products in 2022 as part of a carrot-and-stick diplomacy strategy designed to encourage its reunification with Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway province.

A ban on Taiwanese grouper was lifted in December 2023 in advance of Taiwan’s national election in an effort to assist the China-friendly Kuomingtang party. Lai Ching-te, the leader of the Democratic People’s Party, won the presidential election on 13 January 2024, a result met with disdain from China.

New Taipei City, Taiwan-based Yen and Brothers, which achieved USD 170 million (EUR 159 million) in revenue in 2022, has continued to have difficulty exporting products to China post-election.

It's possible that China will lift the ban this year or possibly next year. We do see some few exporters able to export some seafood from Taiwan to China but with limited quantity and just prepared food like cookies and sweets, which have been allowed to enter China toward the end of last year,” Yen said. “On the surface, the relationship between Taiwan and China remains pretty intense, but business-wise, I do feel that it's opening up again a bit.”

In the interim, Taiwanese companies have figured out workarounds to access the Chinese market.

“China is still a big, big market, but it's just not suitable for us to deal with directly,” he told SeafoodSource. “Last year, we began working with a partner in China to have them sell product for us and transferred some production into China through a kind of joint venture. I believe many other Taiwanese companies have done this as well, so we’re less affected by political issues.”

Yen also noted a shift of processing work away from China, with Vietnam picking up the majority of the business.

“One of my customers owns a factory in China, and now he has set up a factory in Vietnam because they were having trouble exporting Chinese product to the U.S.,” he said. “And, we have a very close working partner in Japan that used to export scallops to China, but now because of the [Fukushima-related] ban, they’re looking for partners in Taiwan and Vietnam to have them reprocess their scallops.”

Doing business with Russian companies has also gotten more complicated recently, Yen said, due to banking complications stemming from international sanctions placed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

There is Russian seafood stuck all over the place that they can't sell,” he said. “Even for us, we used to source from Russia, but now we can't because we can't get payment through. We can buy [Russian seafood] through Korea or China or Japan – somehow, they have some way to have the banking system working – but we can’t buy it directly.”

The fluctuations of the on-again, off-again trade with China has led Yen and Brothers to seek to ...

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