Taiwan will not lift the ban on US pork imports containing the feed additive ractopamine, government officials reiterated in a public hearing yesterday to assuage doubts expressed by lawmakers and representatives of local pig farmers.
At the hearing organized by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元), dozens of pig farmers representatives expressed concerns over a potential relaxation of US pork import safter the upcoming round of Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) negotiations between Taiwan and the US.
Government officials at the hearing tried to reassure that the ban would not be lifted with Jie Wen-ji (介文汲), deputy chief representative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Office of Trade Negotiations, saying that the government had told Washington about it would keep the ban on US pork in place.
“We have told the US that we will not be flexible on this issue because [keeping the ban] is a solemn promise that the Taiwanese government made to its people,” Jie said.
Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Council of Agriculture made a similar pledges, saying that the government would not succumb to outside pressure and sacrifice local farmers in the trade negotiations.
Yang Kuan-chang (楊冠章), president of the Republic of China Swine Association, said Taiwanese pig farmers had insisted on not using ractopamine, despite it being more expensive to do so, and urged the government to maintain the ban.
Lee said lifting the ban on US pork could infuriate the EU, which also insists on ractopamine-free products.
“Taiwan has been doing very well with its zero tolerance of ractopamine. Why would we want to change that? We are facing the potential dumping of cheap meat products if the government capitulates to the US in the TIFA negotiations,” said Lee Mou-jen (李謀仁), deputy general manager of the Taiwan Meat Products Market Development Association.
DPP Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) said pig farmers had good reason to be concerned because the government had lied to the public too many times before, such as when it failed to keep the ban on Chinese agricultural products after signing a cross-strait deal.
“We expect the government to convince the people through action, not empty promises,” Su said.
Support for Taiwan’s pig farmers ran across party lines, with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Huang Chao-shun (黃昭順) saying that she would march on the streets with the farmers if the government failed to keep its pledge.