Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) yesterday said that he is not in favor of imposing a health surcharge on imports of US pork containing traces of the feed additive ractopamine.
Chen made the remarks at a meeting of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee to report on government measures to ensure schoolchildren’s safety after imports of pork containing ractopamine and beef from cattle older than 30 months are to be allowed from Jan. 1 next year.
At a meeting of the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s National Health Insurance Committee on Sept. 18, several members proposed imposing a food safety surcharge on US pork.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
However, no consensus was reached at the meeting.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Liou Wan-ju (廖婉汝) said that she supports the idea of imposing a health surcharge on importers of US pork containing ractopamine, which could balance out the difference in prices between US and local pork.
Chen said that imposing a health surcharge on US pork might be deemed a nontariff trade barrier.
As the National Health Insurance Committee has not reached a consensus on the issue, the proposal needs to be further discussed, he said.
While such a tax might be used to help finance the National Health System, Chen said that there should be an adequate reason to justify imposing additional health taxes.
When asked by KMT Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) why the government has not sent officials to inspect pork slaughterhouses in the US, Chen said that regular inspections in other countries have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government is still negotiating for the possibility of inspecting US pork slaughterhouses in the upcoming three months before the policy is implemented, Chen said.
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