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Ex-US official raises prospect of pork talk

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Discussions on U.S. pork imports will be inevitable during upcoming talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), a former U.S. National Security Council (NSC) official said.

“The United States expects the talks to touch upon a variety of issues,” said Matthew Goodman, former director of international economics at the National Security Council. “It would be a surprise that both sides not talk about U.S. pork.”

Goodman now serves as the William E. Simon chair in political economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He cited differences between the United States and Taiwan on various economic and trade issues, including pork imports. Both sides need time to close those differences, he said.

According to him, both sides are unlikely to reach solutions on all issues at hand. Yet the United States will request that uniform scientific standards be used in inspecting meat products containing the leaning agent ractopamine, he said.

Last year, Taiwan allowed imports of U.S. beef containing residues of ractopamine, following standards adopted last July by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC). Imports of pork containing the leaning agent, meanwhile, are still banned.

Yet concerns over the opening of ractopamine-containing U.S. pork were raised following recent remarks by American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt, who said that the safety standards adopted by the CAC were not specifically about beef.

Meanwhile, new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said recently in response to questions from the Senate that the U.S. will continue its commitment to Taiwan and will help Taiwan maintain adequate defense capability.

Kerry reiterated that Washington will continue to support Taiwan's bid for meaningful participation in international bodies such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The U.S. Department of State will work with the international community to help with Taiwan's participation in the ICAO, Kerry said in his response to questions submitted by Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The U.S. will also encourage other U.N. agencies and global organizations to expand opportunities for Taiwan to participate in their technical and specialist meetings, Kerry added.

Kerry also reaffirmed that the U.S. will help Taiwan to maintain adequate self-defense.

He firmly reiterated the U.S.' support for Taiwan, in response to questions on the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Six Assurances submitted by Republican Senator Bob Corker and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, members of the foreign relations committee.

Supplying Taiwan with weapons to maintain adequate defense capability is in line with the TRA and the U.S.' “one China Policy,” Kerry said. These long-existing policies have contributed to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, he added.

Commenting on the exchange, Taiwan's representative to the U.S. King Pu-tsung expressed gratitude for the senators' concern for Taiwan's international participation and said he hopes that the U.S. Congress will continue its close cooperation with Taiwan.

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States also welcomed Kerry's support for Taiwan's bid to participate in the ICAO and his commitment to Taiwan's security. The office said it looks forward to cooperating with Kerry's team to further expand Taiwan's international participation and advance Taipei-Washington ties.

The TRA, enacted in 1979 after the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China, obliges the U.S. to help Taiwan defend itself.

In 1982, then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan offered Taiwan six assurances, which included a promise that the U.S. would not set a date for termination of arms sales to Taiwan.

Kerry, who was head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, succeeded Hillary Clinton as secretary of state on Feb. 1.

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