The US on Thursday urged Taiwan to ease restrictions on US beef, saying it wanted to focus more on economic relations after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) won re-election.
US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell acknowledged that the US “closely watched” last Saturday’s election in which Ma won a second term.
“We would like to see a continuing of ties, contacts, reductions of tension across the Taiwan Strait,” Campbell said at the Stimson Center think tank.
However, he added: “Speaking from a US perspective, I think we would like to see more progress on the economic side, just to be clear.”
“We would like to see Taiwan take some of the necessary steps on beef and other issues now that the election is over that will allow us to have the kind of flourishing economic relationship that we have with many other countries in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said, in a rare US reference to Taiwan as a country.
Taiwan, like many other governments, banned US beef imports in December 2003 after mad cow disease was detected in a US herd, but relaxed the rules in 2006 to allow imports of boneless beef.
Taiwan moved in October 2009 to allow US beef on the bone, cow organs and minced beef, but the decision was overturned after a public outcry.
Last year, Taiwan pulled from the market US meat with the growth drug Paylean, which is banned in the EU due to health concerns but is considered safe by the US, Canada and Australia.
US lawmakers from farm states have been adamant in pressing Taiwan and other lucrative Asian markets to buy more beef, despite criticism by some academics that the issue has overshadowed broader strategic interests.