The long-running trade dispute between Taiwan and the US over the use of ractopamine, a controversial feed additive, is not only linked to the suspension of bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) platform, but also with Taiwan’s accession to the emerging Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the head of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said yesterday.
“Beef is one step towards Taiwan having a broader and more liberal overall trade posture,” AIT Chairman Raymond Burghardt said.
Taiwan began testing US beef for ractopamine in January last year, prolonging a suspension of TIFA talks that had been in place since 2007, when Taiwan banned US beef imports over concerns of mad cow disease.
The US called off the resumption of TIFA talks, scheduled to resume in January last year, in response to the testing.
Burghardt yesterday linked the bilateral trade dispute to Taiwan’s overall trade liberalization and its engagement with regional trade partners, saying: “There is no way to talk about beef without putting it in that context.”
“Taiwan needs to have better relations with the Asia-Pacific region, beyond China. Taiwan has said it has interests in joining the TPP in 10 years. Why wait 10 years? Why not make it sooner? But there are a lot of things Taiwan would have to do with its agriculture policy, its policy in the pharmaceutical and financial sectors. All of these things have to be liberalized,” Burghardt said.
Burghardt added that Taiwan has to make progress in those areas to be ready for the TPP and to catch up with its neighbors in the region, such as South Korea, which has signed free-trade agreements with the US and the EU.
Asked whether the US supports Taiwan’s accession to the TPP, Burghardt said the TPP is open to all APEC members that are “serious about trade liberalization.”
Meamwhile, Burghardt said the beef issue was irrelevant to the US’ decision on whether Taiwan is granted visa-waiver status.