Sat, Mar 17, 2012 - Page 1 News List

US lawmakers slam Taiwan’s beef, pork policy

‘PSEUDO-SCIENCE’:The US legislators complained that Taiwan’s government was using arguments with no basis in science to get around free-trade laws

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

Police remove a protesting student from the American Institute in Taiwan in Taipei yesterday. Several student groups protested against pressure from the US to lift the ban on beef containing ractopamine residue.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Dissatisfied with the Taiwanese government’s plan to partially allow imports of US beef containing the livestock feed additive ractopamine, a bipartisan group of 68 US lawmakers on Thursday sent a letter to the administration of US President Barack Obama urging it to work with Taiwan to determine an import standard based on “science, not politics.”

In the letter, addressed to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the lawmakers said “further toleration of Taiwan’s unnecessary restrictions sets a dangerous precedent for the mistreatment of US products and undermines our efforts to establish objective, internationally recognized science-based standards for US exports.”

“We encourage Taiwan to allow science, not politics, to determine import standards for US pork and beef products,” the letter said.

To resolve a major trade dispute with the US over the ban on beef containing traces of ractopamine that has delayed the resumption of high-level bilateral trade talks and could hinder the nation’s bid to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the government has said it would conditionally lift the ban. However, it has insisted on “ensuring a safe level of ractopamine in beef, separating permits for beef and pork permits, clearly labeling beef imports and excluding all imports of internal organs.”

In an interview with the Central News Agency in response to the new policy, which still requires legislative approval, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director William Stanton said the US “has no reason to cause a disturbance in the local pork market.”

However, the 68 US lawmakers expressed a different opinion on the pork issue.

They said they were “pleased” with the policy, but still had “strong concern” regarding the “non--science-based restrictions” that Taiwan has placed on beef and pork imports from the US.

For more than a year “Taiwan has unjustifiably increased inspections of US beef and pork products in search of residues from feed additives. These inspections, which are not based on scientific data or standards, have tainted consumer perceptions of US beef and pork products in Taiwan and have caused a significant decline in exports,” the letter said.

“If this issue remains unresolved, it will continue to have negative consequences for our constituents who work in the beef and pork industries,” it added.

The lawmakers encouraged Kirk and Vilsack to work with Taiwan “to find a science-based, market-driven resolution to this issue.”

“The removal of non-tariff trade barriers like this will allow our producers to continue providing safe beef and pork products to consumers in Taiwan without interference from domestic political factions,” they said.

US Representative Denny Rehberg, who joined the appeal, said the “ongoing protectionist trade restrictions” imposed by Taiwan “are costing American beef and pork producers hundreds of millions of dollars in lost export trade.”

The Taiwanese government is using pseudo-science to duck free-trade laws, unfairly penalizing US and Montana producers, Rehberg said in a news release.

“We’ve been pushing for a common sense solution on this issue, and I’m encouraged the Taiwanese government is showing signs of movement, but it is clear that Taiwan is still trying to play politics with their trade policies and it is costing jobs here at home. We are going to keep fighting until we get that changed,” he said.

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