Next premier says beef, pork still separate issues
The China Post news staff and CNATAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Executive Yuan will abide by outgoing Premier Sean Chen's pledge to treat beef and pork imports as separate issues, said Premier-designate Jiang Yi-hua (江宜樺) yesterday.
February 4, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
In the wake of an apparent U.S. push for Taiwan concessions on pork, local media yesterday asked the premier-designate on how his Cabinet will handle U.S. pork imports containing ractopamine.
Jiang declined to give details, saying that he cannot comment on the issue as he has yet to assume office.
“But what Premier Sean Chen said in the past will not change,” said Jiang.
On Jan. 18, Chen said that the Taiwan public eats nine pieces of pork for every piece of beef consumed. During last year's legislative battle over lifting a ban on U.S. beef imports containing ractopamine, Chen said on multiple occasions that separating the issues of beef and pork imports is a nonnegotiable principle.
An agriculture administration official said that opening up borders to U.S. pork imports containing ractopamine could come at a heavy price for the ruling administration.
Pork is one of the highest-valued agricultural products of Taiwan, exceeding by far grouper, orchids and even rice. The annual output of Taiwan's pork industry is valued at NT7$75 billion, according to the official.
Last Friday, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt made remarks that local media interpreted as a prelude to a “pork war.”
As long as Taiwan bans pork containing the leanness-enhancing additive ractopamine, U.S. pork producers will not export their product to Taiwan, Burghardt told media.
But the U.S. has the “permanent position” that food policy and regulations should follow international standards and scientific rules, and the Codex Alimentarius Commission's (CAC) maximum residue levels for ractopamine are “not specifically about beef,” he said.
Following the standards adopted last July by the CAC, a global food safety body, the government decided to allow a maximum residue level of 10 parts per billion (ppb) of ractopamine in U.S. beef imports.
A day earlier, Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji also stressed that the government will not open its doors to imports of pork containing ractopamine, nor will it agree to put the issue on the agenda of upcoming trade talks between Taiwan and the United States set to be held by the end of March.
The government set forth its policy of separating the conditions for beef and pork imports last year when it opened Taiwan to U.S. beef containing ractopamine.