US hopes TIFA talks can resume after elections
By Joseph Yeh ,The China PostThe United States government hopes Taiwanese counterparts can take “concrete steps” to solve the U.S. beef dispute following the January elections before the currently suspended Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks can resume, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.
December 28, 2011, 12:02 am TWN
The U.S. side understands that with the upcoming presidential and legislative elections which will take place on Jan. 14, the local government cannot handle the sensitive issues of U.S. beef at the current time, Remus Chen (陳立國), deputy director-general of MOFA's Department of North American Affairs, said at a regular briefing yesterday.
However, American authorities also pointed out that the issue cannot be held off forever, Chen said, adding that Washington hopes Taiwan can make concrete moves to solve the disputes after the elections.
Chen made the remarks yesterday when asked to comment on when the TIFA talks will resume.
Washington reportedly suspended the schedule TIFA talks with Taiwan, originally set for January this year, after the latter decided to remove some American beef products that were found to contain the locally banned animal feed additive ractopamine from shelves.
The U.S. had repeatedly urged Taiwan to accept a maximum residue limit for ractopamine instead of insisting on a zero tolerance policy that it currently holds.
During a previous visit to Taiwan this January, Raymond Burghardt, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), also pointed out that the current environment is not conducive for the U.S. and Taiwan to hold a new round of high-level TIFA talks.
Speaking at yesterday's news briefing, Chen said that the beef issue should not be an obstacle for improving bilateral trade.
He added that the bilateral communication channel has always remained smooth, adding that Taiwan hopes that the trade talks will resume in the near future.
But he also stressed that the local government will safeguard the health of Taiwanese consumers who have doubts over ractopamine found in some U.S. beef products.
Chen also said yesterday that former AIT Director Douglas Paal will visit Taiwan to observe the upcoming January elections, together with other groups of international academics.
He did not say when these international election observers will arrive in the country or disclose further details of other members in the visiting delegations, saying only that the MOFA is still making arrangements and will make an official announcement later.