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September 21, 2017

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AIT still seeks speedy beef row resolution after bill fails to pass

TAIPEI--The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said yesterday it hoped Taiwan can bring about a "speedy resolution" to the hotly debated beef dispute, shortly after the Legislative Yuan failed to vote on a bill that would allow the imports of U.S. beef containing the leanness-enhancer ractopamine.

The United States would not interfere with how the issue is resolved, but "hopes that the Executive Yuan can finally bring this to a speedy resolution," AIT Public Affairs Section Chief Sheila Paskman said in a telephone interview.

The AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.

Paskman's remarks came after the Legislature failed to approve imports of U.S. beef with ractopamine residues on the final day of its session due to a week-long boycott from opposition parties that argued the feed additive poses health risks.

Some ruling Kuomintang lawmakers said the government should go ahead and lift the ban on ractopamine via an executive order.

Paskman said that some people are making the beef controversy a political issue and have on various occasions provided misleading as well as false information "for political gains."

Millions of people around the world have enjoyed U.S. beef without ill effects linked to ractopamine, she said, explaining that the ban on ractopamine-fed beef was not based on science.

Imports of U.S. beef have been a sore point in trade ties between Taipei and Washington for many years.

Taiwan first banned beef imports from the U.S. when a case of mad cow disease was reported in the state of Washington in December 2003, then re-opened its doors to imports of boneless U.S. beef from cattle under 30 months of age in April 2005.

It imposed another ban in June 2005 when a second case of mad cow disease was reported in the U.S.

Imports of boneless beef from cattle under 30 months of age were resumed in 2006 and bone-in beef was granted entry in late 2009. But Washington has been pressing for wider opening and, more recently, has been lobbying strongly for Taiwan to lift its ban on beef containing ractopamine residue.

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