Taiwan must embrace international trade: CCNAA head

Taipei, March 1 (CNA) A newly sworn-in official responsible for U.S. affairs on Thursday said Taiwan must not isolate itself from international trade, after Washington once again raised concerns over Taiwan’s ban on its pork and beef products as unscientific.

In its “2018 Trade Policy Agenda and 2017 Annual Report” filed by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on Wednesday, the USTR underscored U.S. concerns about Taiwan’s agricultural policies, which it said “are not based upon science.”

This refers to Taiwan’s “zero tolerance” policy on U.S. pork imports that contain a leanness-enhancing drug known as ractopamine, which the country has adopted due to lingering concerns about the drug’s safety and strong opposition from local pig farmers.

Asked to comment, Lin Liang-jung (???), the new head of Taiwan’s Coordination Council for North American Affairs (CCNAA), told reporters Thursday that as an export-oriented country, Taiwan cannot isolate itself from other trade partners, the U.S. included.

“We have to have more exchanges with other trade partners in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to spur Taiwan’s future economic growth and development,” she said when asked to comment on the USTR report.

All related government agencies, including the foreign ministry and economic ministry, will collectively decide what most benefits the country’s inclusion into the global trade system, she added.

Although Lin declined to say the government is considering lifting the ban, she did admit that if the government ultimately decides to further open the market to foreign countries, some local industries will face challenges.

On the other hand, some industries could benefit from such a decision, she said.

It is the government’s responsibility to evaluate the pros and cons of making that final decision and to better prepare affected industries so as to reduce the impact once the decision is made, Lin added.

A veteran lawyer and prosecutor who has headed the nation’s international trade negotiations for years, Lin was sworn in as the new head of the Coordination Council for North American Affairs on Thursday morning. Her most recent post was National Security Council adviser.

The council was founded in March, 1979, after the U.S. officially recognized Beijing over Taipei in January of that year. Headquartered in Taipei, it acts as a liaison office with its U.S. counterpart, the American Institute in Taiwan, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

Asked to comment on the same report, foreign ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (???) told reporters that the government will always safeguard the health of the people, while taking into consideration the long term development of local industry before making a final decision on U.S. meat imports.

He also said the issue is just one of the topics to be addressed in Taiwan-U.S. trade talks and should not become an obstacle to bilateral talks.

The U.S. has long criticized Taiwan’s zero-tolerance policy in its import of meat products and views Taiwan’s ractopamine ban as a trade barrier.

The dispute has complicated trade talks and led to a five-year gap from 2008-2012 during which bilateral talks under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) were suspended.

In July 2012, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed amendments to the food safety act, paving the way for the import of U.S. beef containing ractopamine. The TIFA talks subsequently resumed in March 2013 in Taipei.

Since then, the U.S. has been pushing for Taiwan to accept a maximum residue level for U.S. pork containing ractopamine.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel