Taiwan premier defends US pork imports as key to global trade

Su Tseng-chang says government will take necessary food safety measures

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Premier Su Tseng-chang defends pork imports at Legislative Yuan Friday.

Premier Su Tseng-chang defends pork imports at Legislative Yuan Friday. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In a special address to the Legislative Yuan Friday (Sept. 18), Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) defended the government’s decision to end an import ban on pork containing ractopamine residues as opening the door to international trade.

Last month, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced the ban on pork treated with the leanness drug would end on Jan. 1. The measure had long been seen as an obstacle to the signing of a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) with the United States.

Su noted in his presentation that his government would take all the necessary food safety measures, including strict regulations on labeling, CNA reported. He said now was the crucial moment for Taiwan to open the doors of international trade, so it was necessary to take a brave step forward.

The lifting of the import ban was the result of a risk assessment in 2018 and 2019 by the Ministry of Health and Welfare about the impact of ractopamine, Su’s report said. A meeting of experts earlier this month had discussed the matter in depth, with maximum levels of 0.01 parts per million (ppm) approved for beef and pork including muscle and fat, and 0.04 ppm for liver and kidneys.

Nevertheless, a ban on the use of ractopamine by the domestic hog and cattle breeding sector would remain in place, while a NT$10-billion (US$344-million) fund would help farmers withstand the import of U.S. products, the premier said in his report on the official opening day of the new legislative session.