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Taiwan reiterates no promise of timetable on U.S. beef issue

Taiwan reiterates no promise of timetable on U.S. beef issue

Taipei, June 29 (CNA) Taiwan's government said Friday that it has never promised Washington it will resolve the long-running dispute over U.S. beef imports by a certain time, denying a report stating Taipei's intention to handle the issue after the presidential election in January. "The government has maintained a responsible attitude" on the issue of whether to lift the ban on U.S. beef imports containing the livestock leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. The ministry's remarks were in response to a report by International Community Radio Taipei, in which U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa said Taiwan's government promised him a year ago that the beef issue would be addressed after the country's Jan. 14, 2012 presidential election. Whether to allow U.S. beef imports containing traces of ractopamine, a feed additive banned in Taiwan, has been hotly debated in Taiwan in recent months. After holding three interministerial meetings also attended by members of the academia and private groups, the government proposed in March to conditionally ease the ban on ractopamine. The proposal was based on the principles of specifying a safe level of ractopamine, issuing separate permits for beef and pork imports, mandating the labeling of beef imports and excluding imports of beef organs. However, the government's decision has sparked stiff opposition among opposition parties and many civic groups that cite safety concerns over the use of ractopamine. Government officials, however, have argued that the decision factors in public health and that there is no scientific evidence of people having fallen ill after consuming meat containing "certain allowed levels" of ractopamine. The ministry also said Taiwan is hoping to resume trade talks with the United States after the beef issue is resolved. The resolution of the beef issue will help advance bilateral trade ties and help "Taiwan to join the trend of economic integration," it added. The ministry said it also hopes the U.S. will understand the government's commitment to solving the beef issue. Washington regards Taiwan's ractopamine ban as a trade barrier and has implied that the resumption of talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement rests on the beef issue. The TIFA was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade-related issues in the absence of diplomatic ties, but has been suspended since 2007 mainly because of controversies over U.S. beef. (By Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-06-21 22:24 GMT+08:00