Taiwan’s Bureau of Foreign Trade yesterday said that the beef dispute should be seen as a single event and will not affect a meeting of the US-Taiwan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement after the Office of the US Trade Representative announced that the World Trade Organization dispute settlement would be an option to solve the dispute over Taiwan’s beef imports from the United States.
The U.S. would consider all options to solve the dispute including recourse to WTO arbitration, Deputy Representative of the USTR Demetrios Marantis said in Washington yesterday, according to the Central News Agency.
In response, Huang Chih-peng, Director General of the Taipei-based BOFT, said the revenues of U.S. bone-in beef accounted for more than 90 percent of total trade revenues while those of banned imports of U.S. cow organs, minced beef and other high-risk items such as spines and eyes, less than 10 percent. The Taiwan government has already tried to protect U.S. trade benefits.
Huang added that the first batch of U.S. bone-in beef was recently imported by Taiwan and that he hoped the U.S. take account of the best interests of both sides if they were to have recourse to the WTO’s trade dispute mechanism.
The mechanism is a multilateral system of settling disputes among its members. According to the WTO website, a dispute is usually settled in 12 months without appeal or 15 months with appeal. Countries in dispute can settle their differences at any stage of the process.
The BOFT official also said that Taiwan must present scientific evidence and risk evaluation to support the ban on minced beef and cow organs if the U.S. took the case to the WTO. But this would be hard for Taiwan’s government to do and the USTR has not decided to seek the WTO arbitration appeal yet.