Imports of US beef to Taiwan were expected to reach two-thirds of the level they were at before Taiwan imposed a restriction on them by the end of this year and will revert to full levels by the end of next year, the US Meat Export Federation said.
US beef imports dropped to 25,000 tonnes a year before the Taiwanese government relaxed a ban on beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, federation director Davis Wu (吳秋衡) said on the sidelines of a dinner on Tuesday.
After relaxing the ban, imports will revert to the pre-ban levels of 38,000 tonnes a year by the end of next year, he said.
A new regulation allowing imported beef containing set levels of ractopamine took effect on Sept. 11.
The ban was relaxed as Taiwan set the maximum allowable residue level of the drug at 10 parts per billion (ppb), although a total ban on the drug will be maintained on imported pork, and imports of the internal organs of cows and pigs are also banned.
Taiwan stepped up inspections of imported beef earlier this year, resulting in the destruction or return of large quantities of imported beef containing ractopamine residue, hence the dramatic cuts in US beef imports.
Under US pressure, the government announced that it would relax the restrictions in March. The legislature passed an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) in late July, opening the way for Taiwan to import US beef containing ractopamine, ending a sore point in trade ties between Taipei and Washington.
Speaking at the same dinner, Brent Christensen, deputy director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan, expressed appreciation to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for bringing Taiwan in line with international standards on beef imports.
“We have reasons to be optimistic about the prospects for improved cooperation between the United States and Taiwan and other aspects of our economic relationship,” Christensen said.
Washington regards Taiwan’s ractopamine ban as a trade barrier and had implied that a resumption of bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) rested on resolution of the beef issue.
The TIFA was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-US dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of diplomatic ties, but talks have been suspended since 2007, mainly because of Taiwan’s ban on US beef.