MOFA urges lawmakers to prioritize TIFA talks
By Joseph Yeh , The China PostThe China Post--The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday called on legislators to support the government's policy to lift the ban on imports of beef with ractopamine, saying the move could significantly improve relations between Taiwan and the United States and resume long-delayed bilateral trade talks.
June 6, 2012, 12:19 am TWN
Resolving the hotly debated beef issue can boost Taiwan-U.S. relations and raise the nation's competitiveness in the international market, said Bruce Linghu, director-general of the MOFA's Department of North American Affairs.
“We hope both the ruling and the opposition parties can fully support the positive development of Taiwan-U.S. relations and the government's policy,” he said at a routine new briefing.
The MOFA official made the remarks before next week's scheduled vote in the Legislature on whether to pass an amendment that would lift the ban on the leanness-enhancing drug's use as a feed additive for cattle.
Opposition lawmakers have argued that the ruling administration is sacrificing citizens' health in exchange for the resumption of talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which was signed in 1994 to facilitate talks on a free trade pact, but stalled because of the beef issue.
In response to opposition lawmakers' accusations that the resumption of TIFA talks would not have significant meaning since the framework is nothing but an “empty shell,” Linghu yesterday stressed that the platform is an important bilateral dialogue mechanism that could contribute a great deal to Taiwan's trade.
Many important issues can be discussed under the platform, including a Taiwan-U.S. free trade agreement and Taiwan's admission into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a multilateral free trade agreement to liberalize economies in the region, the official said.
It would be “unrealistic” if Taiwan wants to stay competitive in global trade but was reluctant to “open the door or approach the negotiation table,” Linghu said, adding that Taiwan needs to exhibit its efforts before it can win U.S. support in joining the TPP.