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US report identifies pork ban as ‘barrier’ to trade

Staff writer, with CNA

A customer browses the US beef section of a Taipei supermarket on Jan 17, 2014.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

The US has once again raised concerns over Taiwan’s ban on its pork and beef products, highlighting the issue in the Office of the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) 2018 Trade Policy Agenda and 2017 Annual Report, and refocusing attention on what has been an obstacle to the two nations signing a free-trade agreement.

In the annual report, the USTR underscored US concerns about Taiwan’s agricultural policies, which it said “are not based upon science.”

That refers to Taiwan’s “zero tolerance” policy on US pork imports containing the leanness-enhancing feed additive ractopamine that was adopted due to lingering concerns about the drug’s safety and strong opposition from local pig farmers.

One of the main priorities for the US in its trade with Taiwan is to remove “Taiwan’s barriers to US pork products and certain US beef products produced using ractopamine,” the report said.

The use of the feed additive is authorized in the US by the US Food and Drug Administration, with about 60 percent to 80 percent of all US pigs fed ractopamine, which explains Washington’s eagerness to eliminate the ban.

While Taiwan has not amended its ban on ractopamine in pork products, which has been in effect since 2006, it relented on its ban of the chemical in beef products in 2012, allowing imports with a maximum residue level of 10 parts per billion.

Ractopamine remains banned in all 27 EU member states, China and Russia.

Another priority for the US is to remove “other barriers to US beef offal products” in Taiwan, the report said.

On the subject of agricultural policy, the report said the US is also focused on Taiwan’s rice procurement systems, restrictions on potatoes with greening, its regulatory process for setting maximum pesticide residue limits, and market access barriers facing US agricultural biotechnology products and certified US organic products.

The report indicated that the US would continue to work under the US-Taiwan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and through the WTO to address the issues, which are important to US stakeholders.

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