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Taiwan will not import US ractopamine pork: COA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan will insist on barring imports of U.S. pork containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said Tuesday.

The COA said that U.S. pork currently accounts for between 18 percent and 20 percent of the country's exports, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture issuing certificates that particular batches do not contain ractopamine residue.

The official made the remarks as a U.S. report said that Washington is concerned about Taiwan's ban on beef offal and pork containing ractopamine and could pressure Taiwan to lift its ban on ractopamine-containing pork imports.

The official noted that hog raising is the highest-grossing aspect of Taiwan's agricultural sector, adding that Taiwan will continue to insist on no imports of pork containing traces of ractopamine, while its own hog industry will also not use the drug.

The official noted that Taiwan is not buying U.S. pork containing ractopamine and only buys pork without the drug.

Taiwan eased restrictions on US beef with ractopamine residue in 2012 as a prerequisite for Washington to agree to restart the long-stalled Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks between the two sides.

The talks under the TIFA, which was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade-related issues, have been suspended since 2007 due to U.S. dissatisfaction with Taiwan's restrictions on imports of American beef.

Taiwan lifted the ban on imports of U.S. beef containing traces of the controversial leanness-enhancer in July 2012, paving the way for the resumption of the TIFA talks.

Taiwan was sending a delegation Tuesday to Washington for a new round of TIFA talks with the United States April 4.

Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Cho Shih-chao said the U.S. has put food safety on the agenda for the talks, implying it would put pressure on Taiwan to open doors to imports of U.S. pork.

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