Fri, Feb 08, 2013 - Page 13 News List

TIFA talks set for March 11-12 in Taipei: ministry

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

The Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday said the seventh bilateral talks with the US under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) would be held on March 11 and 12 in Taipei, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated that the government would stick to its policy on US pork imports.

The economics ministry said in a statement that the talks would cover various topics, including bilateral trade and investment, a bilateral free-trade agreement (FTA), cooperation under the WTO and APEC, Taiwan’s opportunity to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), food safety and trade barriers.

The meeting will be co-chaired by Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Bill Cho (卓士昭) and Deputy US Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis, the economics ministry said.

It said it welcomed the resumption of talks under TIFA, the most important channel through which Taiwan and the US discuss high-level bilateral trade and investment.

“We look forward to the talks and expect the two countries can reach consensus on issues on our list,” Cho said by telephone.

Foreign affairs ministry spokesman Steve Hsia (夏季昌) said both sides would join the talks to negotiate issues of mutual interests, but each side has its own view about US pork imports.

“The government has a clear policy of handling pork and beef import issues separately,” Hsia said at a news briefing in response to questions on whether pork imports would be brought up during the talks.

“The government has a clear stance on the issue and the US understands our position,” he said.

Talks under TIFA, which was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-US dialogue on trade-related issues, have been suspended since 2007 because of a controversy over US beef product imports.

Following the standards adopted in July last year by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a global food safety body, on permitted ractopamine levels, Taiwan decided to abandon its zero tolerance stance and allow a maximum residue level of 10 parts per billion (ppb) of ractopamine in US beef product imports. That decision paved the way for the resumption of the TIFA talks.

While Taiwan still maintains a zero tolerance policy on ractopamine residue in pork imports, recent remarks by American Institute of Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt sparked concern that the US might want to bring up the pork issue during next month’s talks.

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