Food safety and the rights of farmers are the government’s foremost considerations when pushing for Taiwan’s participation in international trade agreements, the Presidential Office said yesterday.
The office was responding to a suggestion by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) that Taiwan compromise on the issue of US pork and beef imports in exchange for a bilateral trade agreement with the US.
A Taiwan-US trade agreement would seem feasible, given the long and mutually fruitful economic relationship between the two nations and the support Taiwan continues to enjoy in the US Congress, AmCham said yesterday in its Taiwan White Paper.
“Clearly Taiwan would have to make some concessions on outstanding trade issues, with its current restrictions on the import of some American pork and beef products as the major example,” AmCham said.
The government welcomes continued communication and cooperation with the US on trade and will work to expand the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two nations, the office said.
The government will assess the risk involved in lifting the restrictions on US pork and beef based on scientific evidence to protect the safety of Taiwanese, it said.
The government has been reluctant to allow imports of US beef and pork containing traces of ractopamine because of potential health hazards.
It allowed beef imports in 2012 after maximum residue limits for ractopamine in beef and pork were raised by a narrow margin by a UN body on food standards.
However, the government still bans the import of pork laced with ractopamine due to ongoing safety concerns about the drug and strong opposition from local pig farmers.
Certain US beef products are not allowed into Taiwan due to concerns over mad cow disease.
Separately yesterday, Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said the Cabinet would not comment on AmCham’s suggestion because it is the opinion of a private organization and does not represent the US government.
The issue of US pork and beef imports cannot be negotiated until Taiwan and the US are engaged in official trade talks, only during which the issue of import restrictions can be resolved, he said.
“The Taiwanese government has welcomed [the opportunity of] signing a free-trade agreement [FTA] with the US, and we have been making efforts to push for an FTA and other cooperation,” he added.
Additional reporting by Chen Wei-han
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