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Taiwan's president vows balance over U.S. beef issue

Taiwan's president vows balance over U.S. beef issue

Taipei, Oct. 29 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou vowed Thursday to find a balance between Taiwanese people's health and the country's international creditability after the government decided last week to open its door wider to U.S. beef products, to the criticism of some people in Taiwan.
"Finding a balance between the Taiwan people's health and the country's efforts to participate in the international arena is the government's top mission," Ma stressed.
Ma made the remarks at the Presidential Office when receiving a group of Taiwanese business people and Taiwan-based foreign trade officials recognized as outstanding this year.
Commenting on the controversy arising from the U.S. beef issue, Ma said the government fully respects the initiatives launched by the private sector to boycott some of the U.S. beef products that will soon be allowed into Taiwan in line with a protocol inked by Taiwan and the United States on Oct. 22 in Washington, D.C. to lift a partial ban on U.S. beef imports.
"If the private sector can take the initiative to screen the stuff they want, it will help spare the government from re-opening the talks with the United States and help avoid hurting Taiwan's international creditability," Ma said.
Still, Ma tried reassured the public about the safety of the beef products from the United States.
According to the president, the U.S. side will control its beef product quality from the origin, while Taiwan's veterinarians are entitled to conduct checkups at designated slaughterhouses in the United States. "The United States will be responsible for effective management of its beef in the very beginning, while the Taiwan government will be accountable for the same issue on the borderland, " the president explained.
"This sort of quality control mechanism is the strictest management ever seen." Ma said Taiwan could not turn down the United States' demand to hold negotiations on the issue in abidance of the norms of the World Trade Organization (WTO) , but throughout the whole negotiation process, government officials did stick to the principle of security and safety.
"The terms obtained in the negotiating table should be enough to help protect Taiwan nationals' health, " he said. "This is the reason behind the government's decision to relax restrictions on the importation of U.S. beef." Under the new pact, U.S. bone-in beef, ground beef, offal, brains, and processed beef from cattle younger than 30 months and that have not been contaminated with "specific risk materials" will be permitted to enter Taiwan starting Nov. 10.
Specific risk materials are defined in the protocol as brains, skulls, eyes, trigeminal ganglia, spinal cords, vertebral columns and dorsal root ganglia from cattle 30 months of age and older, or tonsils and the distal ileum of the small intestine from cattle of all ages.
At present, Taiwan only allows imports of U.S. boneless beef from cattle younger than 30 months that contain no specified risk materials.
Turning to foreign affairs, Ma hailed the results of a flexible diplomacy strategy adopted by his administration after he assumed the presidency in May last year, to increase Taiwan's international presence and improve ties with China.
Citing as an example, the president said it is possible that the European Union will grant visa-free treatment to Taiwanese citizens next year. Ma also expressed hope of seeing concrete results next year from an economic cooperation framework agreement being negotiated between Taiwan and China.
(By Carfie Lee and Flor Wang)




Updated : 2021-03-03 17:04 GMT+08:00