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May 23, 2017

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With beef war over, let the squabble over pork begin

The beef war between Taiwan and the United States is over. Though a peace treaty has yet to be signed during an extraordinary session of the Legislative Yuan at the end of this month, the maximum residue limit (MRL) for leanness-enhancing ractopamine in beef and beef products the Codex Alimentarius Commission set last week ended Taiwan's internecine war in the Legislature, which shouldn't have occurred in the first place.

Taiwan bans ractopamine, an additive to feed for livestock. It isn't banned in the United States, an exporter of beef and pork. Uncle Sam wants to sell beef and pork with ractopamine residue all over the world, but many countries — including Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China as well as the European Union — have refused to buy.

Of late, Japan agreed to import ractopamine-enhanced beef without much fuss, while South Korea followed suit after beef cattle and swine raisers took to the streets to protest. Washington urged Taipei to follow Japan's example to lift the ban on U.S. beef and beef products and President Chen Shui-bian complied in 2007 by getting his Department of Health to set the MRL, and his Council of Agriculture to inform the World Trade Organization that Taiwan would import American beef with ractopamine residue under that MRL, which is the same 10 ppb (parts per billion) that the Codex finally approved.

It was the Kuomintang in opposition then that was up in arms against the U.S. beef imports, starting the beef war across the Pacific. The Chen government used the Kuomintang objection as an excuse for refusing to issue an executive order to lift the ban on imports from the United States to avenge a slur Washington had cast upon him. Then there was a truce, during which the government let U.S. beef with ractopamine residue come to Taiwan without inspection.

That fragile truce came to an end after the Kuomintang came to power. It's the turn of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party to bring an all-out effort to object to American beef imports in the name of defense of the public against the "poisonous American beef." The beef war resumed with a vengeance, as the Kuomintang government lied again and again that it wasn't being pressured by Uncle Sam to lift the ban to resume negotiations on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between the two countries, and there was no timetable for an end to the ban. Worse still, the government decided not to lift the ban by an executive order but instead through amending the Food Safety Act.

July 15, 2012    thomaslagrua@
"What's good for the Americans to eat is just as good for the people of Taiwan to eat." How ridiculous of a statement is that? Have you looked at the health statistics of Americans, lately? The USA has the most unhealthy and obese population in the World. I'd say that their diet has just a little bit to do with that. Furthermore, it is not now, nor has it ever been "universally acknowledged that meat with ractopamine residue under the MRL is no health hazard." With all due respect, if you want to eat food based on America's dismal health standards, that's your privileged. But to suggest that Taiwan should follow suit, that's just ridiculous. I'd encourage that Taiwan be left to set its own standards.
July 16, 2012    Karmashock@
If you will permit an American opinion. It is believed in my country that these bans are merely stealth protectionism. The Europeans cited as also having a problem with this food additive are infamous for these sorts of ploys. The French especially delight at injecting rules that protect French agro business at the expense of all other parties. If you have watched EU politics you will see that they have done this against their fellow EU members setting quotas on Greek, Italian, and Spanish produce.

Likewise, the Japanese have frequently used such ploys to protect their domestic meat markets. It went so far that the US was unable to sell specialty meat to the Japanese that included no additives. Pure grass fed beef of the kind only sold to the most expensive steakhouses in New York was forbidden import into Japan.

If there are legitimate environmental concerns then by all means ban those imports. But when it is abused to protect domestic meat markets it is in violation of trade treaties. It is in violation of the spirit of our friendship.

The United States imports hundreds of billions in goods from Taiwan. The country is probably one of the US's largest suppliers of electronic goods.

We have shown good faith to Taiwan and we have even shielded your country from military aggression from mainland China. What have we asked for in return?

Nothing special. No favors. It is so much to ask that your country abide by the trade treaties?

Doubtless I have upset someone for saying this... it is not diplomatic. It is not my intention to offend. But we are dealing with your nation in good faith and have acted as good allies for generations. We deserve better then to be treated to this double talk.
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