Thu, Feb 02, 2012 - Page 1 News List

New Cabinet to discuss US beef imports, Ma says

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

The new Cabinet will begin discussions on US beef imports after it is sworn in on Monday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday, adding that he expected Taipei to resume bilateral talks with Washington under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) platform.

In a meeting with American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt at the Presidential Office, Ma reiterated that his administration expected to make progress on the stalled TIFA talks and that the nation aimed to join the emerging Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the next 10 years.

“I understand the US is very concerned about the issue of US beef imports. We have just completed the Cabinet reshuffle, and the new Cabinet will take over on Monday. The Cabinet will exchange ideas with the US on the issue,” he said.

The US called off the resumption of TIFA talks, which were scheduled to resume in January last year, after Taiwan began testing US beef for ractopamine — a controversial feed additive — and banned US beef containing the substance.

Burghardt on Tuesday linked the bilateral trade dispute to Taiwan’s overall trade liberalization and its engagement with regional trade partners, expecting Taiwan to address the issue of US beef imports as soon as possible.

He congratulated Ma on his re-election last month and praised Taiwan for demonstrating a mature democracy.

He added that he expected the Ma administration to continue deepening bilateral trade and investment relations with the US during his second term.

Ma promised the new Cabinet would further improve Taiwan-US relations.

“Maintaining strong and stable relations with the US is the core of our foreign policy,” he said, adding that Taiwan-US relations under his watch have been the best in the past 30 years and that the nation had also fostered better ties with Japan and China.

Ma linked the expansion of international relations to the improvement of cross-strait relations, insisting that his “three noes” policy — no unification, no independence and no use of force — and the so-called “1992 consensus” served as the major basis for such developments.

At a separate setting yesterday, premier-designate Sean Chen (陳冲) said that specialists at the Council of Agriculture, the Department of Health and the Consumer Protection Commission would use their professional expertise to review the US beef issue and draft suggestions using international standards as a reference.

Asked if the government was under pressure from the US to further open the market to US beef, Chen said: “There is no negotiation without pressure. If there is no pressure, there is no need to negotiate.”

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) has said that the legislature will discuss the issue and revise related rules after the Cabinet comes up with new policies governing US beef imports.

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan

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