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Gov't to maintain stance on US pork imports: Foreign Ministry

TAIPEI--The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that Taiwan and the United States are closely negotiating on the agenda of upcoming bilateral trade talks but reiterated that Taiwan will stick to its policy on the issue of U.S. pork imports.

“The government has a clear policy of handling pork and beef import issues separately,” ministry spokesman Steve Hsia said at a news briefing in response to questions on whether the pork issue will be brought up during the talks under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA).

Hsia's remarks came after the Ministry of Economic Affairs issued a statement earlier in the day to announce that a new round of talks under the TIFA will be held in Taipei March 11-12.

U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis will head a delegation of trade officials that will visit Taipei to co-host the seventh round of TIFA talks with Vice Economics Minister Cho Shih-chao, who will be leading the Taiwanese delegation, the statement said.

Asked about the issue, Hsia said the two sides are closely negotiating on issues to be discussed during the talks.

Although Taiwan and the U.S. have their own respective views on the issue of U.S. pork imports, “our government has a clear stance on the issue and the U.S. understands our position,” he added.

Talks under TIFA, which was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of formal diplomatic ties, have been suspended since 2007 due to the controversy over U.S. beef imports.

Following the standards adopted last July by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), a global food safety body, on permitted ractopamine levels, Taiwan decided to abandon its zero-tolerance stance and allow a maximum residue level of 10 parts per billion of ractopamine in U.S. beef imports, paving the way for a resumption of the TIFA talks.

Recent remarks by American Institute of Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt triggered concern that the U.S. might want to bring up the pork issue during the talks.

The safety standards used to set maximum residue levels for ractopamine that have been adopted by the CAC “are not specifically about beef,” he noted.

In terms of pork imports, Taiwan still maintains a zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine.

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