President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and American Institute in Taiwan Director William Stanton yesterday both emphasized the importance of trade liberalization as a step toward joining the US-led Trains Pacific Partnership (TPP) when they shared the stage in Taipei last night.
Addressing the 44th annual Hsieh Nien Fan, or “Thanks for the Year Dinner,” at the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei, Stanton said: “How Taiwan currently handles bilateral trade issues [with the US] and whether it fosters trade and open markets” shows whether it is well-prepared to join a more comprehensive trading block like the TPP.
By bilateral trade issues, Stanton was apparently referring to US beef, as the Taiwanese government struggles to push through a plan to relax a ban on imports of beef containing residues of the feed additive ractopamine amid public concerns over food safety.
Stanton said that “Taiwan needs to change” to continue its success, which he said the US has helped achieve.
Stanton stressed the importance of further market liberalization.
“We all know that liberalization is not easy. Change always has its cost,” Stanton said, adding that “refusing to change also has its cost, including falling behind” other countries.
He again urged Taiwan to base its food regulatory standards on science and international practices, saying that the failure to do so has caused problems for distributors, importers, retailers, restaurants and consumers.
Ma addressed the US beef issue during his address, saying that the issue had impeded the resumption of bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
“Taiwan must join the TPP,” Ma said, adding that Taiwan must shake off its “protectionism mindset.”
There is no room for indecision and hesitation, and Taiwanese have to show determination, he said.