Cabinet spokesperson-to-be Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) yesterday defended Council of Agriculture minister-designate Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻) over his remarks about lifting the ban on importing US pork products, saying Tsao’s comments are in line with the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) four fundamental principles on the issue.
Joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a common aspiration in Taiwan and talks on membership are certain to include whether to lift the ban on importing US pork products, he said.
“The DPP has four basic principles on the issue: ensuring food safety, reducing the impact on the industry, staying in line with international standards and establishing a mechanism to smoothly communicate with all parties,” he said. “It is under such preconditions that we would take care of the pork products import issue in negotiations for the TPP.”
“Tsao’s remarks did not go beyond the four principles. It is just that sometimes, newspapers might focus on different things,” Tung said.
However, DPP lawmakers appeared divided on the import issue.
“It is the government’s responsibility to defend food safety and pig farmer’s rights,” said DPP Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國), who represents Yunlin County, which is home to many pig farms. “[Tsao] should not show his bottom line when the negotiations have not even begun.”
DPP Legislator Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said that if lifting the ban is a must for joining the TPP, it would probably be very difficult to prevent it.
“However, the government should come up with certain measures to protect rights of the public and of pig farmers,” he said.
DPP caucus secretary-general Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said the media might have overinterpreted Tsao’s remarks.
“The key to deciding whether to lift the ban rests on public opinion. I believe [president-elect] Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) government would be one that respects public opinion,” she said.
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