Taipei, Government officials and observers believed Friday that Taiwan’s relaxation of restrictions on American pork and beef imports will be conducive to establishing a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) between Taiwan and the United States.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced earlier in the day that Taiwan will set standards for ractopamine residue in imported pork to allow imports of the meat and open its market to U.S. beef for cattle aged over 30 months, which has been barred because of fears of mad-cow disease.
The use of ractopamine in pork has been banned in Taiwan, just as it is in the European Union and China because of fears over the risks it may pose to human health.
Opening up its market to imported pork with traces of ractopamine and beef from older cattle is expected to boost Taiwan’s relations with its important trade partners and is “very beneficial” to Taiwan’s intentions to establish a BTA with the U.S., Deputy Economics Minister Chen Chern-chyi (陳正祺) said Friday.
Former Economics Minister John Deng (鄧振中), now a minister without portfolio who focuses on trade, said he was “optimistic” that the easing of the import restrictions would lead to the resumption of Taiwan-U.S. trade talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) framework.
Deng said the U.S. has been questioning Taiwan’s resolve to abide by international standards in terms of beef and pork imports, and believed that the U.S. side will respond positively to Taiwan’s intention to resume TIFA talks with the latest development.
TIFA is a platform established by Taiwan and the U.S. in 1994 to serve as a major negotiating channel for high-ranking trade officials from each side. However, talks under TIFA have been suspended since 2017, with Taiwan’s partial bans on U.S. meat products perceived as a major factor.
Meanwhile, the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham Taipei) lauded Taiwan’s move to open its beef and pork market and hoped that the decision will lead to a positive response from the U.S. regarding the possibility of entering into negotiations for a BTA.
“The current atmosphere appears especially favorable for such a step to bolster the bilateral relationship,” the chamber said in a statement, adding that a BTA would be in the best interest of both the U.S. and Taiwan for strategic as well as economic reasons.
Darson Chiu (邱達生), an analyst at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, agreed that Tsai’s move will boost the chances of Taiwan signing a BTA with the U.S.
After gaining U.S. support, Taiwan will have a greater chance to participate in multilateral trade pacts, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Chiu said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel