The Office of the US Trade Representative yesterday urged US trading partners to eliminate any trade barriers caused by a ban against the use of leanness-enhancing feed additive ractopamine, following a Codex Alimentarius Commission decision to establish maximum residue levels (MRLs) for the drug in beef and pork.
“The US welcomed the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s decision to set up MRLs for the livestock leanness-enhancing feed additive ractopamine, as the stipulated standard could serve as an explicit reference for countries in the safe consumption of meat products containing the additive,” the Office of the US Trade Representative said yesterday.
However, officials from the Office of the US Trade Representative declined to give any direct responses when asked to comment on Taiwan’s stance on adopting separate permits for beef and pork imports, but reiterated that Washington urged its trading partners to “take down any trade barriers caused by an improper ban on the use of ractopamine.”
The proposed MRLs rendered by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives in 2004 were ratified at the 35th session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in Rome on Thursday, with ractopamine MRLs for both pork and beef set at 10 parts per billion (ppb) in muscle and fatty tissues, 40ppb in liver and 90ppb in kidneys.
In the wake of the commission’s narrowly reached consensus to lay down MRLs for the feed additive, the legislature has come under increased pressure to ease the ban on imports of US beef containing residue of ractopamine.
However, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration continues to pledge it will maintain its stance on proposing separate restrictions on US beef and pork imports.
A US official familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity, said the Office of the US Trade Representative was by no means to consent to two sets of standards and that the US government only refrained from openly defying Ma’s rhetoric to avoid causing further disturbance.
An official at Taiwan’s representative office in the US also echoed such allegations, saying the issue of US pork imports would soon be put on the negotiating table between the US and Taiwan once the ban on imports of US beef containing ractopamine was lifted.
The ratification of the draft MRLs for ractopamine posed further difficulty for Taiwan to close the door on US pork imports, the official said, which was why the country must be ready for another round of US-Taiwan negotiations at the earliest possible time.