WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — A Taiwanese delegation of grain buyers and other industry members visited the U.S. this week to sign letters of intent for grain purchases in Washington, D.C., and throughout the Grain Belt, part of a biennial visit meant to strengthen economic ties between the two countries.

The group began in Washington, D.C. where representatives from the U.S. and Taiwanese grains industries signed letters of intent committing to nearly $3 billion in total sales.

Chip Councell, vice-chairman of the U.S. Grains Council, participated in the signing ceremony on behalf of the organization and U.S. corn producers, with Taiwanese customers pledging to purchase 5 million tonnes (197 million bushels) of U.S. corn and 500,000 tonnes of U.S. corn co-products valued at $1.23 billion by 2017.

The letter of intent is evidence of Taiwan’s commitment to strengthening trade ties and maintaining its well-established partnership with the U.S.

“The council has been involved in Taiwan for 42 years and has watched it grow into a steady, reliable buyer of U.S. coarse grains and co-products,” said Alan Tiemann, USGC chairman, who farms in Nebraska. “This mission helps maintain an open dialogue between U.S. and Taiwanese government officials, traders and end-users, which is key to maintaining a healthy trade relationship with this top buyer.”

Taiwan is an important purchaser of U.S. agricultural products, especially U.S. corn. For the 2014-15 marketing year, Taiwan was the sixth largest market for U.S. corn, third largest market for U.S. barley and a top buyer of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), a co-product of ethanol production that is a high-protein feed ingredient for livestock.

While in Washington, D.C., members of the mission met with the council, U.S. Wheat Associates, the U.S. Soybean Export Council, the North American Export Grain Association and the National Grain and Feed Association as well as U.S. government officials. The mission delegates also signed letters of intent to purchase U.S. wheat, soybeans and co-products with U.S. Wheat Associates and U.S. Soybean Export Council.

After the formal signing ceremony at the U.S. capitol complex on Sept. 16, members of the Taiwanese delegation began a week-long tour of the U.S. Grain Belt to see U.S. farms and grain elevators and meet with local leaders. While in the Midwest, a corn and soybean group will meet with government officials, farmers, agriculture groups and other important international organizations in Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky and Minnesota.

The Goodwill Mission has been organized by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) every other year since 1998 and allows Taiwanese participants to gain familiarity with U.S. coarse grains’ yield, production and quality. It also educates the delegation on the advantages of U.S. coarse grains and related co-products and reconfirms the U.S. commitment to being the long-term, reliable supplier of grains for their market.