The Singaporean Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has decided to lift safety measures on certain Taiwanese products and return to normalized trade, the Taipei Representative Office in Singapore announced yesterday, a move that is seen as disproving rumors that relations between the nation’s envoy and the city-state are strained.
After the plasticizer food scare in May last year, Singapore enacted measures compelling five major foodstuff imports from Taiwan, namely sports drinks, juice products, tea products, jams and syrup products, and foodstuffs in the form of capsules, pills or powders to be labeled with the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ (MOEA) Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection’s special proof of examination.
The plasticizer scare refers to the use of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, or DEHP, and other -plasticizers, -chemical substances used to increase pliability in plastic materials and which have been found to be endocrine disruptors, in food additives such as clouding agents.
The office said that after assuring the AVA that the plasticizer issue has been taken care of in Taiwan and urging it to consider lifting the extra safety measures on Taiwanese imports, the authority had agreed to a general lift of the measures starting on March 1.
The office further said that the ban would help Taiwanese food industries receive more contracts at a three-day foodstuffs exhibition starting on April 17, to which the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and foodstuff unions have invited 72 firms.
Meanwhile, the lifting of the measures is being seen as disproving rumors that there were “issues” during the tenure of soon-to-be--recalled Representative to Singapore Vanessa Shih (史亞平).
Shih’s recall has been the focus of media speculation lately, with the Chinese-language China Times publishing an article speculating that Shih, to facilitate a free-trade agreement with Singapore and resolve agriculture-related negotiations, had asked to see former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kwan Yew (李光耀).
The piece also speculated that Shih angered the Singaporean government, who called for a change of representatives, by insisting on meeting with Lee despite Lee’s saying that meeting face-to-face would not bring about any guarantees.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday declined to comment on the media speculation.
Shih is being reassigned, but it has not yet been decided when she will return to Taiwan, the ministry said, adding that it would announce her successor once the ministry has finished the list of candidates.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer