Fri, Jun 08, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Resolution of US beef issue crucial to trade talks: Shih

By George Liao  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan’s ban on US beef imports containing the livestock leanness-enhancing agent ractopamine has a deep impact on how the nation would fare in future regional trade talks, especially high-level trade talks with the US, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said yesterday.

Shih made the statement after he came back from the APEC Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade held earlier this week, where he met US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and his deputy, Demetrios Marantis.

With many trade negotiations and economic cooperations going on in the Asia-Pacific region and around the globe, Taiwan must actively push for greater participation in such regional cooperation and integration to improve its economy and competitiveness, Shih said.

Speaking of the APEC meeting, Shih said ASEAN members had suggested extending the regional bloc by including countries that have signed free-trade agreements with ASEAN and form the ASEAN Framework for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is also stepping up its integration and Russia is pushing for the expansion of the Eurasian Economic Union, which so far only consists of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, Shih said, adding that Taiwan would be marginalized if it were left out of these international trade talks.

“The US plays a key role on whether Taiwan will be successful in expanding its participation in international economic cooperation,” he said.

However, the message he got from his meeting with Kirk was that the US would not resume high-level trade talks with Taiwan under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) if the US beef issue remained unresolved.

“Resuming talks with the US under the framework of TIFA should be a priority for both sides,” Shih said, adding that with so much that needs to be done, it is not worth stalling over one issue.

At yesterday’s press conference to highlight the progress of the country’s bilateral trade talks, Shih said Taiwan is currently engaged in bilateral trade talks with Singapore, New Zealand and Japan.

The government would also expedite negotiations with China under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), the minister added.

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