Thu, Jan 07, 2010 - Page 1 News List

US State Department regrets beef ban

DISAPPOINTED The deputy US trade representative expressed serious concern over the Legislative Yuan’s decision to ‘place domestic politics over science’

By Jenny W. Hsu and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday downplayed the impact of the amendment.

“What the US cares about is that we have signed the protocol but we passed an amendment that would contradict the protocol. It believes that we have breached our trade promise,” Wang said.

Wang said that ties between the two countries had only been slightly affected by the amendment and that the government would work to mend the relationship.

At a separate setting yesterday, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said the government would seek “immediate” consultations with Washington over the beef ban.

If that request is rejected, the two sides may have to wait until 180 days after the protocol’s ­implementation to review the deal.

The protocol states that the two sides shall consult within 180 days of the protocol’s implementation to review the deal and that consultations shall be held within seven working days of a request for review.

NO SHADOW?

After President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said the accord was valid despite the legislature’s partial ban, Wu yesterday said the government would honor the accord by importing bone-in beef from cattle younger than 30 months, hopefully in one to two months.

Wu said he was confident that the ban would not have a negative impact on relations as the two countries have a profound friendship.

“But we do need to cement relations with the US in terms of economic ties. I also hope the [ban] will not cast a shadow over the country’s credibility in terms of global trade and economic [activities],” Wu said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus secretary-general Lu Hsueh-chang (呂學樟) said the caucus would communicate with members of Congress through the Taiwan-US Parliamentary Amity Association.

“We will do our best,” Lu said, but added that it was normal for a legislature to amend the law to reflect public opinion.

RESPONSIBILITY

Meanwhile, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday demanded that a senior official step down to shoulder responsibility over the beef turnaround.

The DPP named three people: Ma, National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi (蘇起) and Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良).

“One of these three people must resign to answer to an angry public,” DPP spokeswoman Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said, ­adding that a poll conducted by cable network TVBS found that 33 percent of respondents blamed Ma, 22 percent blamed Yaung and 10 percent blamed Su.

The DPP has said that the Ma administration should shoulder responsibility for any fallout over the beef ban because it signed the protocol without public support.

Lu yesterday said Su should not have to step down over the controversy as he had only coordinated the talks with the US.

Asked for comment, Wang said he would respect Ma’s decision.

Lu said that since the legislature had completed the amendment, it could ask the Executive Yuan to “correct” any part of the protocol that violates the amendment.

CANADIAN TRADE

Meanwhile, the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei said it had no comment on the amendment’s passage, but was watching the situation.

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