Taiwan will separate the permits for beef and pork imports if it decides to open its doors to meat that contains residues of the banned leanness--enhancing livestock feed additive ractopamine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.
Referring to a set of guidelines announced by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to partially allow imports of beef containing ractopamine, the ministry’s deputy spokesman Steve Shia (夏季昌) said that “our policy is very clear.”
“The guidelines include: a safe level of ractopamine in beef; separating permits for the import of beef and pork; clearly labeling beef imports; and excluding imports of internal organs,” he said.
Shia’s remarks came amid media reports that several US lawmakers have been urging US President Barack Obama’s -administration to press Taiwan to allow imports of both beef and pork containing ractopamine.
In March, 68 US lawmakers appealed to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about the restrictions Taiwan placed on US beef and pork imports, which they said had no scientific basis.
In a letter, they said that “toleration of Taiwan’s unnecessary restrictions sets a dangerous precedent for the mistreatment of US products and undermines our efforts to establish objective, internationally recognized science-based standards for US exports.”
“We are aware of the concerns put forward by the US congressmen,” Shia said, adding that the Obama administration also “fully understands” Taiwan’s policy.
Imports of US beef have been a sore point in trade ties between Taipei and Washington for many years.
Taiwan first banned beef imports from the US when a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, commonly known as mad cow disease), was reported in Washington State in December 2003, then re-opened its doors to imports of boneless US beef from cattle under 30 months of age in April 2005.
It imposed another ban in June 2005 when a second case of mad cow disease case was reported in the US.
Imports of boneless beef from cattle under 30 months of age were resumed in 2006 and bone-in beef was granted entry in late 2009.
However, Washington has been pressing for wider relaxation of trade restrictions, and more recently has been lobbying strongly for Taiwan to lift its ban on beef containing ractopamine residue.