The nation will continue to communicate with the US on the controversial issue of pork imports, and explain factors such as food preferences and concerns among Taiwanese, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.
The statement was made in response to the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei’s (AmCham) Taiwan White Paper released on Thursday that said the nation should make some concessions on outstanding trade issues, such as its restrictions on US pork and beef imports.
The ministry said that pushing for bilateral free-trade agreements and seeking to integrate with the region’s economies are major policies of the government.
If Taiwan and the US could reach a fair trade agreement, it would help strengthen mutually beneficial trade and economic ties between the two nations, the ministry said.
However, it said the professional assessment of the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Council of Agriculture must be respected with regard to the ban on US pork containing traces of ractopamine, a leanness-enhancing feed additive for livestock.
While seeking to boost trade talks with the US to enhance relations, Taiwan must also protect the health of its people and the development of local industries, it said.
The government would continue to explain that Taiwanese eat a lot of pork and offal and are deeply concerned about the safety of meat products via channels such as the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, the ministry said.
The ministry said it hoped the US would understand that the nation respects international standards and is willing to communicate on the issue of pork imports.
The AmCham report said a US-Taiwan trade agreement seems feasible, given the long and mutually beneficial economic relationship between the two sides and the support Taiwan continues to enjoy in the US Congress.
“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 has been reluctant to allow imports of US beef and pork that contain traces of ractopamine because of potential health hazards.
It relented on beef in 2012 after maximum residue limits for ractopamine in beef and pork were set by a UN food standards body.
However, Taiwan has maintained its ban on ractopamine in pork, citing lingering safety concerns about the feed additive and strong opposition from local pig farmers.
Certain US beef products are also not allowed into Taiwan due to concerns over mad cow disease.
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