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President Ma, KMT reject zero-tolerance 'European Union model' for beef imports

President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday warned against using the so-called “EU model” championed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regarding U.S. beef imports.

Not only did the policy take a heavy toll on the EU, but Japan and South Korea were also forced to abandon attempts to us the model, Ma said.

The European Union maintained a zero-tolerance policy for residue of growth drugs in U.S. beef, a position which DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said Taiwan should adopt. Kuomintang (KMT) Speaker Yin Wei (殷瑋) described this position as “extreme” and urged the DPP to have a better understanding of the issue.

According to Yin, Japan and South Korea made a similar offer to the U.S., but finally gave in because of opposition from the U.S. The two Asian countries both opened to U.S. beef imports under the condition that there should be no more than 10 parts per billion (PPB) of growth-drug residue found in imported beef.

Yin further criticized the EU model, saying that the costs of taking the EU position is too high and the DPP should rethink its feasibility. In 1988, the World Trade Organization ruled that the European states did not have enough evidence to support their claim of the risk of growth drug residue. Resulting trade retaliation by the U.S. cost the European states US$116.8 million.

DPP Vows to Boycott Vote

Criticizing the president for threatening the general public and vilifying the DPP, opposition Legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) stated that the DPP plans to boycott the vote on Tuesday if the KMT tries to force the ratification of U.S. beef imports.

Liu and fellow Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) reiterated the position of the DPP, saying that the party is not against U.S. beef imports, but against the import of beef with residue of leanness-enhancing drugs.

Hsiao stated that when former President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) ran the government, Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks between Taiwan and the U.S. were not linked to the beef import issue. Although the import of U.S. T-bone beef was opened by the government at that time, TIFA talks were not influenced in any way. This suggests that beef is not the only issue related to TIFA talks, the legislator said.

Liu stated that only 20 to 25 percent of U.S. beef contains growth drug residue. Thus, banning beef found to contain the drugs should not be a precondition for TIFA talks. Liu urged the president not to adopt the same mindset of the American Institute in Taiwan and threaten the general public that opening the U.S. beef import is a must for TIFA talks to resume.

The KMT should not vote on the import issue before the conclusion of the U.S. beef commission comes out, Liu said. Moreover, refuting the claim that ractopamine residue is safe, Liu stated that not a single person is willing to endorse the meeting of experts held by the government which came to this conclusion.

Hsiao said that opening up to U.S. beef might not result in any significant changes because the U.S. government has not made any specific promises of progress for TIFA talks or joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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