U.S. wants full local opening to beef imports
CNATAIPEI, Taiwan -- The top U.S. envoy to Taiwan said yesterday that the United States is still looking for a full implementation of a beef import deal signed with Taiwan last October.
March 17, 2010, 9:58 am TWN
“Washington is still considering options for reaching the ultimate goal of fully implementing the beef protocol, “ said William Stanton, director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).
“I cannot hide our frustration that some in Taiwan value short-term political concerns over scientific evidence and free trade principles,” he told an annual dinner party organized by the Taipei-based American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham).
Taiwanese government officials have said that Taiwan will try its utmost to communicate with the U.S. government on Taiwan's market for U.S. beef and beef products.
The October protocol promises that Taiwan will open its market to imports of U.S. bone-in beef, ground beef and offal.
However, the Legislative Yuan, as a result of public pressure, amended the Act Governing Food Sanitation Jan. 5 to ban certain beef products from countries with documented cases of mad cow disease over the past decade.
The amendment effectively bars U.S. ground beef, beef offal and other beef parts such as skulls, eyes and intestines from access to Taiwan's market, but sets no restrictions on bone-in beef.
At the party, however, Stanton threw his backing behind granting Taiwanese people U.S. visa waiver privileges.
“We recognize, and I personally strongly support, Taiwan's interest in joining our visa waiver program,” he said.
“Although Taiwan does not meet the requirements for the program at present, there are security measures Taiwan can adopt to bring it closer to eventual inclusion in the program,” he noted.
He made the remarks after President Ma Ying-jeou thanked AmCham for supporting Taiwan's efforts to sign a proposed trade pact with China.
“Signing, negotiating an ECFA (economic cooperation framework agreement) with China will be a very important move for Taiwan to rejoin the very vigorous regional economic integration in this part of the world,” said Ma.
“I want to thank AmCham for championing this idea many, many times in your White Book,” the president noted.
Ma told the audience of senior officials and business leaders that his administration is working to ink the pact with China — Taiwan's largest trading partner — in the middle of this year.
“So far, the negotiations have been going very smoothly and we hope we can get it done sometime before June this year,” he said.
Ma described the ECFA as “a very important part of our global strategy” and “something you, AmCham, has been calling on for quite a while.”
He also highlighted the need to forge closer ties with other major economic players.
“We have to negotiate FTAs (free trade agreements) with our other major trading partners such as the United States, Japan, Southeast Asia, Korea and the European Union,” Ma said.