President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promised to resolve the issue surrounding US beef imports and expressed hope that Taiwan-US trade talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) platform would resume soon.
Ma, when meeting Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and a US delegation, said the government would continue to strengthen -relations with the US, adding that he expected efforts to resolve the US beef imports issue would lead to the negotiation of a free-trade agreement (FTA) with the US.
Ma also expressed the hope that Taiwan could join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.
“We also hope that Taiwan can join the TPP within eight years, so that we can strengthen our connections with neighbors in the process of regional economic -integration to avoid being marginalized,” he said.
The US called off the resumption of TIFA talks, scheduled to resume in January last year following the last round in 2007, after Taiwan began testing US beef imports for the leanness-enhancing feed additive ractopamine.
The US has linked the bilateral trade dispute to Taiwan’s overall trade liberalization and its engagement with regional trade partners, prompting the Ma administration to work toward relaxing the ban on imports of beef containing traces of ractopamine despite concerns about public health.
Ma has insisted that the US beef issue involves matters of national interest other than public health, saying that Taipei was under pressure to address the issue in order to facilitate bilateral trade talks with the US over the stalled TIFA.
While defending the government’s plan to relax beef imports, Ma has promised to prioritize public health when handling related issues.
Ma, who will be sworn in for a second term on Sunday, cited remarks made last year by US -Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Taiwan is “an important security and economic partner” of the US, saying that his government has successfully restored mutual trust between the two countries.
He also thanked the Kentucky State Legislature for its support of Taiwan’s attempts to join international organizations, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, and noted that this year marked the 30th anniversary of -sister-state relations between Taiwan and Kentucky.
Additional reporting by CNA