Tue, Jul 31, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Representative says TIFA negotiations on track to resume

NO BEEF WITH TAIWAN:Jason Yuan said that after the ban on beef imports with ractopamine is relaxed, talks on the stalled agreement could restart in October

Staff writer, with CNA, NEW YORK

Taiwan and the US are expected to discuss the resumption of long-stalled trade talks in October, the nation’s top envoy to the US said on Sunday, following Taiwan’s decision to allow the conditional import of beef containing ractopamine residue.

Taiwan is expected to officially announce its decision to conditionally relax the ban on beef containing the livestock feed additive ractopamine in September, Representative to the US Jason Yuan (袁健生) said.

Following the announcement, the two sides should start discussing when to resume talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in October at the latest, Yuan said in New York, where he was accompanying former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) to a meeting of academics.

It is hoped that the TIFA talks, which have been halted for five years, can restart by the end of the year, Yuan said.

The legislature passed amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) last week to conditionally allow entry to beef imports containing ractopamine.

The move was aimed at appeasing Washington, which has long railed against restrictions on US beef imports.

Conditions governing imports include setting a safe level for ractopamine residues in beef, issuing separate permits for the importation of beef and pork, mandating labeling of beef imports and excluding imports of cattle organs.

So far, messages received from the US have been positive, with the US Congress and the Office of the US Trade Representative praising President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for his determination to solve the trade issue, Yuan said.

Talks under the TIFA, which is seen as a precursor to a free-trade agreement, have been halted since 2007 due to the beef dispute.

The dispute originally centered on concerns over the safety of US beef following the discovery of cases of mad-cow disease.

Washington considered resuming TIFA talks in late 2010, but decided against the idea early last year after Taiwan seized shipments of US beef containing the additive, which is banned in Taiwan and a number of European nations.

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