Free trade pact negotiations should begin as soon as possible: premier
CNATAIPEI--Taiwan must begin as soon as possible to discuss with other countries its desire to forge free trade agreements (FTAs) with them, Premier Sean Chen said Saturday.
April 8, 2012, 12:00 am TWN
“It requires time to make an FTA possible,” Chen said in meeting with representatives from the mechanic and bicycle manufacturing sectors in Taichung, central Taiwan.
For example, he said, South Korea's goal of signing an FTA with the United States was set in 2003 but was not achieved until March this year.
In the process, the two sides held many rounds of negotiations, which at one point involved controversy over imports of U.S. beef, the premier noted. Taiwan cannot expect to realize a similar goal in a short period of time, he said.
He said it would help Taiwan's long-term development if the issue of whether to allow residues of the livestock feed additive ractopamine in U.S. beef imports could be resolved. Earlier this year, Chen announced that the government would conditionally lift its ban on ractopamine in U.S. beef imports, but the decision sparked heated public controversy over the safety of the drug.
The beef controversy is seen as a major obstacle to Taiwan's trade dialogue with the U.S., one of its largest trading partners, under the framework of a trade and investment agreement between the two sides.
Meanwhile, the Executive Yuan plans to hold a series of seminars on food safety across Taiwan's 22 cities and countries within three weeks to explain the government's policy in this regard to the public.
Ranking officials, including Premier Sean Chen and Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta, would host over some of these seminars. The first such seminar was held in Kaohsiung Friday, followed by two Saturday in Tainan and Kaohsiung.