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Taiwan president defends ending ban on US pork after months-long feud

Tsai responds to accusations of hypocrisy regarding DPP's past opposition to ractopamine-fed US meat, says "context is very different"

President Tsai Ing-wen (Facebook, Tsai Ing-wen photo)

President Tsai Ing-wen (Facebook, Tsai Ing-wen photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Thursday (Dec. 24) defended her decision four months ago to lift the ban on U.S. pork products starting next year, a change that sparked an opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party-led boycott campaign.

Tsai announced in late August that the country would be dropping its import restrictions on American beef from cattle over 30 months old and pork treated with the beta-agonist growth promotant ractopamine. The KMT has since then launched various anti-ractopamine maneuvers, including blocking legislative votes, pushing local governments to ban U.S. pork from school lunches, and organizing protests.

The Legislative Yuan, which Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) controls, on Thursday voted to approve several executive orders to allow in American pork and beef beginning on January 1, 2021.

Tsai took to Facebook that day to defend the decision, saying it had been made after carefully weighing the situation. She refuted KMT accusations that her party has changed its position on the issue since she took office.

The DPP vehemently opposed importing U.S. beef and pork in 2009 and in 2012, respectively, when the Legislative Yuan and presidency were controlled by the KMT.

"The context is very different," Tsai said. "In 2009, the risk of mad cow disease was still dire, as there had been an outbreak only a few years prior, so the DPP was insisting on tight border controls and a clear food labeling system. In 2012, then KMT government wanted to expand market access to ractopamine-treated U.S. pork before an international standard for a safe [level of] residue was finalized, so we disagreed."

She went on to say that in July of 2012, the DPP "gave the nod to ractopamine-treated U.S. beef imports soon after the [international food standards body] Codex Alimentarius Commission adopted maximum residue level standards for the feed additive, though a ban on American pork was upheld due to worries over its impact on Taiwanese hog businesses." The international standards on ractopamine use have evolved, and there has been no report in Taiwan of health problems caused by U.S. beef containing trace ractopamine since then, she added.

Tsai said it is now time to reconsider the ban, as fears have been put to rest and local pork products are returning to international markets after a several-year hiatus following Taiwan's foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. "Food safety measures will remain in place to safeguard people's health."

"After announcing the plan to expand market access to American beef and pork in August, we've received positive feedback from around the world, and the U.S. is eager for further talks on cooperation." "Taiwan is an export-dependent country and to me, no trade agreement would benefit only one party."

台灣是依賴貿易而生存的國家,對我來說,貿易就是有來有往,任何協議,都不會只合一方的意。 今天稍早,立法院經歷一整天的表決,通過了進一步開放美豬美牛的九項行政命令。看著此事引發這麼大的爭議,我也有些話想跟大家說。 美豬美牛的議題,經歷過三...

Posted by 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen on