The new head of the Coordination Council for North American Affairs (CCNAA) yesterday said Taiwan must not isolate itself from international trade, after Washington once again raised concerns that Taiwan’s ban on certain US pork and beef products is unscientific.
As an export-oriented nation, Taiwan cannot isolate itself from other trade partners, including the US, council Chairperson Lin Liang-jung (林良蓉) said.
“We have to have more exchanges with other trade partners in the World Trade Organization [WTO] to spur Taiwan’s future economic growth and development,” she said, when asked to comment on the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) 2018 Trade Policy Agenda and 2017 Annual Report published on Wednesday
The report underscored US concerns about Taiwan’s agricultural policies, which USTR said “are not based upon science,” and refers to Taiwan’s “zero tolerance” policy on US pork imports that contain the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.
All related government agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Economic Affairs, would collectively decide what most benefits the nation’s inclusion into the global trade system, Lin said.
Although Lin declined to say if the government is considering lifting the ban on such US meat products, she did say that if the government does decide to further open the market, some local industries will face challenges, while some could benefit.
It is the government’s responsibility to evaluate the pros and cons of such a move and prepare the affected industries to reduce the impact once a decision is made, Lin added.
A former prosecutor who has headed the nation’s international trade negotiations for years, Lin was sworn in as council chairperson yesterday morning.
Founded in March 1979 and based in Taipei, the council acts as a liaison office with its US counterpart, the American Institute in Taiwan.
Asked to comment on the USTR report, foreign ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said the government would always safeguard the public’s health, and it would take into consideration the long-term development of local industry before making a final decision on US meat imports.
The issue is just one of the topics to be addressed in Taiwan-US trade talks and should not become an obstacle to bilateral talks, he said.
The US has long criticized Taiwan’s zero-tolerance policy on meat product imports and views Taiwan’s ractopamine ban as a trade barrier.
The dispute has complicated trade talks and led to a five-year gap suspension in bilateral talks under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between 2008 and 2012.
The Legislative Yuan in July 2012 passed amendments to the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法), paving the way for the import of US beef containing ractopamine and the TIFA talks resumed the following March in Taipei.
Since then, the US has been pushing for Taiwan to accept a maximum residue level for US pork containing ractopamine.
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