Tue, Jan 21, 2020 - Page 3 News List

Official defends policies for food imports

THE US AND JAPAN:The presidential office official said that allowing US pork and beef requires professional evaluation, and a clear answer would not come quickly

By Lee Hsin-fang and Wu Liang-yi  /  Staff reporters

The government’s food policy is based on protecting people’s health, international standards and scientific evidence, a Presidential Office official said on Sunday.

The official, who declined to be named, made the remarks in response to media queries about requests by Washington and Tokyo that Taiwan lift bans on some foods.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has expressed hope that Taiwan and the US could sign a bilateral trade agreement, while American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James Moriarty told a conference in Washington on Jan. 11 that, with Tsai’s re-election, the government should consider allowing imports of US pork and beef, a call echoed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei.

Allowing imports of US pork and beef is a significant issue that requires professional evaluation and a clear answer would not be available in the short term, the Presidential Office official said.

The issue should not be unduly amplified, the official said, adding that the government needs to consider the overall situation when deciding on policy.

Taiwan and the US can still promote economic cooperation without deciding on the beef and pork issue, the official said.

Japan is pushing Taiwan to lift a ban on food from Fukushima, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Chiba and Gunma prefectures that was imposed following the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster.

Japan-Republic of China Diet Members’ Consultative Council Chairman Keiji Furuya broached the issue at a meeting with Tsai at the Presidential Office in Taipei on Friday last week.

The Japanese government has repeatedly urged Taiwan to lift the ban, saying it affects whether Taiwan could join the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Asked whether Taipei should maintain the Japan ban, more than 7 million people in a referendum in November 2018 said it should, compared with more than 2 million who said the ban should end.

A change cannot be made until November, as the referendum result is effective for two years, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said.

Former premier Lin Chuan (林全) had reportedly planned to lift the ban, but the issue became thorny after men dressed in black disrupted public hearings organized by the ministry on the issue.

The Food and Drug Administration in 2018 commissioned experts to collect 300 samples of eight food categories from the five Japanese prefectures to test their radiation levels, with the results showing that they were all within safety standards.

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