Taipei--The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Friday that Taiwan will continue to communicate with the United States on the controversial issue of U.S. pork imports and to explain factors such as food preferences and concerns in the local population.
The statement was made in response to the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham), which said in its 2017 Taiwan White Paper that Taiwan should make some concessions on outstanding trade issues, such as its current restrictions on the import of some American pork and beef products.
In its response, the foreign ministry said that among the major policies of the Taiwan government are its goals of pushing for bilateral free trade agreements and seeking to join regional economic integration.
If Taiwan and the U.S. can forge a fair "bilateral trade agreement," it will help strengthen mutually beneficial trade and economic ties between the two countries, the ministry said.
However, MOFA said, the professional assessments by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Council of Agriculture must be respected with regard to the ban on U.S. pork containing traces of ractopamine, a leanness enhancing feed additive for livestock.
While seeking to boost trade and economic talks with the U.S. as part of the effort to enhance mutual relations, MOFA said, Taiwan must also protect the health of its people and the development of its local industries.
The Taiwan government will continue to explain to various U.S. sectors, via channels such as the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, that Taiwanese eat a lot of pork and offal and are deeply concerned about the safety of such meats, MOFA said.
The ministry said it hoped the U.S. side would understand that Taiwan respects international standards and is willing to continue communication on the issue of U.S. pork.
In its 2017 Taiwan White Paper released Thursday, 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 welcomed continued communication and cooperation on trade with the U.S. and would 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 Presidential 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 set by a United Nations food standards body.
However, Taiwan has maintained its ban on ractopamine in pork, citing lingering safety concerns about the drug and strong opposition from local pig farmers.
Certain U.S. beef products, meanwhile, are not allowed into Taiwan due to mad cow disease concerns.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel