The United States has expressed its disappointment with a lack of progress in pork import issues to Taiwan in the latest round of talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) held in Washington, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua said Wednesday.
In a phone interview with CNA, Wang, who led the Taiwan delegation to the talks held a day earlier in Washington, Wang said that the U.S. side raised concerns that Taiwan has maintained a ban on imports of U.S. pork containing the banned leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.
Wang said that Washington has urged Taipei to apply international scientific standards to resolve the pork import issue and allow sales of U.S. pork in the Taiwan market, adding that the U.S. has been disappointed with the lack of progress on the issue.
South Korea permits imports of beef and pork containing ractopamine and allows the domestic use of the additive in animals. For its part, Japan allows imports of beef and pork with ractopamine, but it prohibits the domestic use of the feed additive in animals.
President Tsai Ing-wen has said that Taiwan will take into account the standards applied by Japan and South Korea and carefully study the U.S. pork import issue. Taiwan has taken no preconditions on the issue so far.
Wang said that the Taiwan delegation told its U.S. counterpart in the TIFA meeting that Taiwan’s food safety authorities will continue to discuss the issue and evaluate possible risks resulting from U.S. pork imports into the Taiwan market before making a decision.
The TIFA, signed in 1994, is the primary mechanism for dialogue on trade between the U.S. and Taiwan, and provides an opportunity for both sides to discuss how to expand trade and investment links and deepen cooperation. The framework agreement has played a critical role in strengthening bilateral commercial ties between the Taipei and Washington.
While Wang led the Taiwan delegation to the latest round of talks, The U.S. delegation was headed by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Holleyman, and included officials from the U.S. departments of state, agriculture and commerce, as well as the American Institute in Taiwan.
In the negotiations under the TIFA, Taiwan has expressed hope that it will be in talks with the U.S. to sign a bilateral trade agreement to forge a closer business relationship between Taipei and Washington, Wang said.
The U.S. delegation responded that Washington now has to devote all of its efforts to push for the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bloc.
Wang said that Taiwan has made great effort to improve its investment environment in a bid to join a second round of talks in the TPP and join the trade bloc.
In the TIFA meeting, both sides discussed a wide range of issues such as intellectual property rights protection, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, investment, agriculture, technical barriers to trade, and regional and multilateral cooperation.