Pork moves back to the frontline of Taiwan-U.S. trade talks

U.S. ITC names pork as major issue of concern, hog farmers oppose imports

Hog farmers protesting in 2016. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan will discuss all issues with a visiting United States trade delegation, the Presidential Office said Wednesday, as hog farmers voiced their renewed opposition against the import of U.S. pork showing residues of ractopamine.

The comments came after the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) published its 2016 trade report Tuesday, mentioning the ractopamine ban as a major concern in relations with Taiwan.

The island allowed the import of U.S. beef containing traces of the leanness drug in 2012, which led to a steep drop in popularity for then-President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九). Pork is an even touchier subject because hog farming is a strong local sector of the Taiwanese economy.

A U.S. delegation from the U.S. Trade Representative and of the Commerce Department was arriving in Taiwan for a round of talks lasting until Friday. The Presidential Office described it as a routine annual meeting where both sides would exchange view on a wide range of issues, including but not limited to pork. Intellectual property rights, agricultural development and anti-dumping inspections were also likely to be discussed, a spokesman said.

Also on Wednesday, the Taiwan Swine Association voiced its continued opposition to the import of ractopamine-treated pork, saying it first wanted to see scientific evidence that it was harmless.

In its report, the ITC said Taiwan had slipped from being the ninth biggest trading partner of the U.S. in 2015 to tenth in 2016. The U.S. trade deficit with Taiwan shrank over the same period, according to the report.