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Taiwan to end ban on bone-in Canadian beef

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW), Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), Council of Agriculture (COA) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday announced that Taiwan will be allowing the import of Canadian bone-in beef from cattle under 30-months old in the near future.

The government had sent a delegation to Canada to inspect its slaughterhouses in September 2012, to evaluate Canada's request to allow imports of its bone-in beef. The country's top envoy to Taiwan had expressed a wish for the request to be passed last year, saying that Canada had been trying to prove its beef safe to consume after its first case of mad cow disease surfaced in 2003, when the ban was first instituted.

Nearby countries like Japan and South Korea have been importing Canadian beef long before Taiwan's recent nod of agreement.

To Speed Up TPP Negotiations: MOEA

The import will be legalized in approximately one month's time, said the MOEA. After Taiwan had allowed the import of U.S. beef (excluding intestines) in 2012, Canada has been pressuring Taiwan as it is even more anxious to receive the same treatment, said MOEA Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝). “As Canada is also a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), our move is like telling the world that 'we are serious (about entering the TPP),' and we want to secure a place in the partnership's second round of negotiations,” said Chang.

The minister claimed that it was also “time to respond to Canada's gestures of good will,” pointing out that the Canadian government had not only promised immediate discussions on double taxation issues and insurance agreements between the two nations once Taiwan legalized the import of Canadian beef, Taiwan was also granted the freedoms of air, visa waiver and working holiday programs last year.

“This is not a quid pro quo issue,” Chang noted.

The MOEA had made the remarks several hours before the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei, which had issued a press release stating that it “welcomed the announcement ... the announcement reflects the strong economic ties between Taiwan and Canada, and demonstrates clearly Taiwan's desire to further liberalize their economy and further integrate into the broader regional and global economy.”

Timing Coincides with Legislature Hiatus?

The timing in which the announcement was made was reportedly controversial to many. The Executive Yuan chose to deliver the news just three days after the Legislative Yuan's recent session ended and with the people still recovering from a string of food scares that rocked 2013, the timing was said by some to be a “shortcut” that induced less fuss.

Chang headed to the Legislative Yuan to make the announcement yesterday along with MOFA Minister David Lin (林永樂), MHW Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) and COA Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基). The group action was interpreted as a means to clarify that the government did not mean any disrespect to the lawmakers.

The Taiwan Solidarity Union caucus expressed its approval and support of the allowance, while the Democratic Progressive Party had not sent representatives to hear the reports yesterday, merely stating that the party needed to discuss the issue.

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Ministry of Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Francis Liang (梁國新), left, briefs the media about Taiwan decision to lift a ban on imports of Canadian bone-in beef with Food and Drug Administration Director-General Yeh Ming-kung (葉明功) in Taipei, yesterday. (CNA)

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