President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday instructed Council of Agriculture minister-designate Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) to make US beef imports a priority and to seek a solution to the longstanding dispute, as he had promised Washington that discussions on the matter would begin soon.
US beef imports have drawn attention again after Ma’s meeting with American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt on Wednesday in Taipei. Ma told Burghardt that the new Cabinet would start discussions on the issue after it is sworn in on Monday.
At the center of the dispute is the US’ use of ractopamine, a controversial feed additive to enhance lean meat. Taiwan began testing for the chemical in January last year, which led to the banning of US beef parts that contain the additive.
Chen confirmed to the Taipei Times that Ma had instructed the council, the Department of Health and the Ministry of Economic Affairs to deliberate on the issue at the earliest possible.
“Food safety is the most important concern. The impact of imports of meat products produced with ractopamine on the local industry is also important. And the ractopamine acceptability criteria adopted by Taiwan must be in line with international standards,” Chen quoted the president as saying.