USTR outlines concern over pork import laws
CNAWASHINGTON--A trade report released by the United States days before bilateral trade talks begin with Taiwan outlines U.S. concerns over Taiwanese regulations and how they might affect U.S. pork exports to the island.
March 4, 2013, 12:26 am TWN
The report, released by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) March 1, lays out Washington's 2013 trade policy agenda. It says that Taiwan has not established maximum residue levels (MRLs) for the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine in pork and as a result, “the restrictions continue to disrupt primarily U.S. exports of pork to Taiwan.”
“The United States continues to press Taiwan to address a number of U.S. concerns regarding Taiwan's sanitary and phytosanitary measures,” the report said, adding that the use of ractopamine is approved in the U.S. and some other countries. It is banned in more than 100 countries.
The ban on imports of U.S. pork containing ractopamine remains, even though in 2007, Taiwan found no health risk after conducting a risk assessment and notified the World Trade Organization of its intention to establish a MRL for ractopamine in beef and pork, the report added.
The Taiwanese authorities also did not follow the approach taken by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a global food safety body, on ractopamine, the report said.
The report sparked local concerns as to whether Taiwan will lift its ban on U.S. pork containing ractopamine.
In response, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said in a statement Saturday that the government has made clear its policy of separating the rules for beef and pork imports and has explained its stance to U.S. officials.
Premier Jiang Yi-huah has also pledged that during his term in office, Taiwan will not allow imports of U.S. pork containing ractopamine, it added.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated the government's policy on the U.S. pork issue and said the U.S. fully understands Taiwan's stance.
Asked about the U.S. pork issue, former opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen meanwhile urged the government to elaborate further on its policy on the issue and explain what measures it will take in response to the “international” pressure.
Last year, Taiwan lifted its ban on U.S. beef imports containing ractopamine, paving the way for a resumption of bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).
The next round of TIFA talks are scheduled to take place in Taipei March 11-12.
Taiwan now allows imports of U.S. beef containing ractopamine and has adopted a MRL of 10 parts per billion, in accordance with standards set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
The USTR report described the establishment of a MRL for ractopamine in beef as “an important step forward in rebuilding confidence in Taiwan as a reliable trading partner.”
Meanwhile, the report raised the issue of an amendment to Taiwan's Act Governing Food Sanitation approved by the Legislature in 2010, which it said has the effect of banning imports of ground beef and certain offal from the U.S. and thus is inconsistent with Taiwan's obligations under a protocol signed between the two sides in 2009.
The U.S. “will continue to press Taiwan to act in a manner consistent with science, as well as its obligations under the bilateral protocol, and to refrain from taking measures that overly burden trade in beef and beef products,” it added.
Other issues mentioned in the report include concerns that the imports of U.S. agricultural products still remain at risk of rejection for pesticides and other agrochemicals that are approved and widely used internationally and in the U.S. but have not been reviewed and approved in Taiwan.
Although Taiwan has made progress in establishing pesticide and other agrochemical MRLs, more needs to be done, according to the report.
The U.S. will continue to work closely with Taiwan in 2013 to resolve these concerns, it said.