The lifting of a ban on imports of pork products containing traces of ractopamine is a step in initiating talks on a potential bilateral trade agreement (BTA) with the US, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said at a meeting of the legislature’s Economics Committee in Taipei yesterday.
Answering lawmakers’ questions about the possibility of the two nations signing a BTA, Wang said that importing more US agricultural products and natural gas could expedite the process, and that it would be reasonable to expect “initial talks” in the “one to two year” time frame.
“Why has the US Trade Representative not yet initiated talks?” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator William Tseng (曾銘宗) asked.
Photo: Chien Jung-feng, Taipei Times
Wang said that she could not speculate, but that she believed the chances of initiating talks between the two sides within two years were “quite likely.”
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Aug. 28 announced that Taiwan would lift a ban on pork containing ractopamine and beef from cattle more than 30 months old, which is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1.
While not all US farmers use ractopamine, some add it to animal feed to promote leanness.
The use of the feed additive is banned in the EU, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia among other countries and areas due to questions about its effect on human health.
Without the lifting of the ban, there would have been little hope of furthering Taiwan-US trade ties, Wang said.
“We have heard from lawmakers on both sides of the aisles that it is quite difficult to speak up on behalf of Taiwan as long as the ban is in place,” she said.
She added that members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership allow the import of pork and beef containing ractopamine.
“We can buy more corn, wheat and soybeans from the US, as well as natural gas” to help expedite trade talks, she said.
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