HELENA — Since 1985, Montana and Taiwan have established a Sister-State relationship. Two years ago, Governor Greg Gianforte re-opened the Montana-Asian Trade office, re-establishing an important trade partner in Taiwan.
"They’re looking for alternative supply chains that would not be disrupted if there was a conflict in Southeast Asia," explained Gianforte.
Hosting over 40 representatives from Agriculture and Photonics organizations across Montana, Taiwan and Montana were able to establish an important relationship between one another.
"In December, we will have Montana Tech Students going to study the semi-conductor industry in Taiwan those sorts of exchanges make both of us stronger."
Governor Greg Gianforte's Office reports that Montana is a leading state in Photonics, Optics, and Quantum Computing companies in the United States. By 2025, the industry is set to grow by 2 trillion. On the Governor's first international trade mission, he signed a number of MOU's (Memorandum of Understanding) to create more Mandarin speaking programs at Montana universities.
Another major talking point on the trip was agriculture. Montana wheat is taking the cake for the most exported commodity to Taiwan over rice. The geography of the Southeast Asian island doesn't allow for the country to handle the demand for wheat and beef.
"I think the bottom line, when you look at global wheat prices, we can't lose sight of the fact that the highest priced wheat on the planet probably goes to Taiwan. and the marketplace will supply that. But it comes at a premium and the Taiwanese are willing to pay that premium and that does come back to the farm gate in Montana and it goes back to increased economic returns to the Montana grower," explained Executive Director of the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee Kent Kupfner.
Kupfner says that Taiwan has high specifications in the quality of wheat they import. Those conscious demands align perfectly with the Montana grower. On top of the demand for high quality wheat, Taiwan also has a growing demand for beef.
"It does give us an opportunity to grow that market share. We're always looking for those opportunity is anytime anybody wants to increase that market, wants to buy more products from us and to just make sure that we are providing for them what they need," added Director of Montana Department of Agriculture Christy Clark.
Each attendee of the trade mission had a different story to tell from the hospitality of the Taiwanese, to the conversations between growers and consumers, to the respect and value for Montana Products.
"If folks that live all the way on the other side of the world recognize that product as being premium, hopefully when we all sit down to you and I steak dinner with a nice chewy roll next to it on the plate, we recognize that that was raised right here in our own borders," expressed Nicole Rolf, Senior Director of Governmental Affairs for the Montana Farm Bureau.
Rolf recalled a trip to a grocery store in Taiwan and in the meat department, Montana and U.S. raised beef sat on the top shelf and remains the gold standard.
The trade mission was not only an opportunity for economic growth for Montana, but to establish the Montana quality across the nation.
"I think we've established some new relationships to complement the ones that we've had for a long time. And it's going to bear fruit for both Taiwan and Montana," added Governor Greg Gianforte.