Taipei--Food safety and the rights of local farmers are the government's foremost considerations in pushing for Taiwan's participation in international trade agreements, the Presidential Office said Thursday.
The office was responding to a proposal by the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) that Taiwan should compromise on the issue of U.S. pork and beef imports in exchange for a bilateral trade agreement with the United States.
In its 2017 Taiwan White Paper, released that day, AmCham said a U.S.-Taiwan trade agreement would seem to be feasible, given the long and mutually fruitful economic relationship between the two sides and the support Taiwan continues to enjoy in the U.S. 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.
In response, the Presidential Office said the government welcomes continued communication and cooperation on trade with the United States and will work to expand the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides.
The government will assess the risk involved in lifting the restrictions on U.S. pork and beef based on scientific evidence, to protect the safety of its people, the office said.
Taiwan has been reluctant to allow imports of U.S. 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 passed by a narrow margin by a United Nations food standards-setting body.
But Taiwan continues to ban ractopamine in pork, because of ongoing safety concerns about the drug and strong opposition from local hog farmers.
Certain U.S. beef products, meanwhile, are not allowed into Taiwan due to mad cow disease concerns.
Also Thursday, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (???) said the government welcomes a free trade agreement with the United States.
However, he said the Cabinet would not respond to AmCham's proposal because it does not represent the opinion of the U.S. government.
On AmCham's view that recent revisions to Taiwan's Labor Standards Act with regard to five-day work weeks "constituted a great leap backward," Hsu said the Cabinet has heard the voices of business groups and some legislators have put forth proposals to amend the law again.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel