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Cabinet might pass draft amendments on beef issue Thursday

Cabinet might pass draft amendments on beef issue Thursday

Taipei, April 1 (CNA) The Cabinet might discuss and pass its own package of draft amendments to ease a ban on U.S. beef imports containing traces of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine this week, which will require further approval from the Legislature. The Cabinet's version of draft amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation is likely to be on the agenda of the regular Cabinet meeting April 5, Minister without Portfolio Simon Chang told CNA Sunday. Whether to lift the ban on beef imports that contain residues of ractopamine has been a hotly debated issue in Taiwan, and is closely tied to the resumption of trade talks with the United States. Taiwan's government, under pressure from the U.S., has proposed conditionally relaxing its ban on beef imports containing ractopamine residues, but the proposal has raised public concerns over the safety of this beef. Now that the government has made a policy direction to conditionally lift the ban, opposition lawmakers have been demanding the Cabinet submit its own version of draft amendments to the Legislature for review. The Legislature has seen more than a dozen draft amendments -- all presented by lawmakers -- to the food act dealing with the beef issue. Several of these draft revisions propose a zero-tolerance policy for ractopamine. The dispute over the beef issue has also seen two boycotts by opposition Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union legislators at the Legislature last week. On March 29, the lawmakers boycotted a meeting of the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, which was held to review draft amendments to the food act. The following day, opposition lawmakers staged another protest at the Legislature, blocking the premier from attending a question-and-answer session with lawmakers. Taiwan wants to resolve the beef dispute with the U.S. because it is central to the re-opening of bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which have been stalled since 2007 mainly because of controversy over U.S. beef imports. The TIFA was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of diplomatic ties. President Ma Ying-jeou has reiterated that the beef issue needs to be addressed as soon as possible so the long-stalled trade talks can be resumed, as well as to enhance Taiwan's international competitiveness in trade. The U.S. decided against resuming TIFA talks in early 2011 after Taiwan refused to allow the entry of shipments of U.S. beef containing ractopamine residues. (By Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-10-16 06:34 GMT+08:00