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China Times: U.S. beef row reaches deadlock

China Times: U.S. beef row reaches deadlock

Francisco Sanchez, U.S. under secretary of commerce for international trade, recently postponed his planned visit to Taiwan amid an ongoing row over Taipei's ban on U.S. beef containing residues of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine. In recent years, Washington has been very unhappy with the way Taiwan has been handling the beef trade. First, there was the decision by Taiwan's Legislature in 2010 to restore a ban on certain U.S. beef products over mad cow disease concerns, contravening a Taiwan-U.S. protocol signed in 2009. Then, in 2011, shipments of U.S. beef were denied entry to Taiwan after they were detected to contain ractopamine residues. The incident led Washington to decide against resuming talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with Taiwan. Washington believes President Ma Ying-jeou's re-election in January opened up a new opportunity to deal with the issue and has since stepped up pressure on Taipei to change its zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine. However, we think the United States is being too domineering by forcing Taiwan to accept agricultural products that are potentially harmful to human health. In fact, the strong opposition against ractopamine among people in Taiwan has cut across party lines. Last week, legislators succeeded in having the Cabinet promise not to loosen the ban without changes made by the Legislative Yuan to related laws. The dispute between Taipei and Washington over the beef issue is not a special case. The United has forced South Korea to open its market to U.S. beef, using the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement as a weapon. It has also pressured Japan to do the same, using the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement as a bargaining chip. The U.S. beef issue has gone beyond mere food safety. It also involves many political and diplomatic consideration. Since the problem is not likely to be resolved in a short period of time, the U.S. side has made the well-advised decision to put off Sanchez's visit. (Editorial abstract -- March 3, 2012) (By Y.F. Low)


Updated : 2021-06-14 11:48 GMT+08:00