TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan will have to face the issue of its ban on some Japanese food imports following the referendum defeat of a proposed ban on ractopamine-laden pork, but no timetable has been set for talks with Tokyo, the country’s top trade negotiator said Monday (Dec. 20).
In a victory for the government, a referendum proposal to ban the import of pork products containing residues of the leanness drug ractopamine failed to win a majority in the nationwide vote Saturday (Dec. 18). Attention is now expected to shift to a ban placed on food and agricultural products from the prefectures of Fukushima, Chiba, Gunma, Ibaraki, and Tochigi in the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Minister without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中), who heads the Cabinet’s Office of Trade Negotiations, said the country still needs to face the issue, but it should be decided on the basis of health, science, and international rules, UDN reported.
He emphasized that there is not yet a timetable for talks with Japan on the subject. The referendum result will enhance Taiwan’s chances of joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade group, he said.
The country filed its membership application to the 11-member bloc on Sept. 22, but during the referendum campaign, the government voiced the fear that a vote in favor of a ractopamine ban would harm its case.
Leading members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party said they would bring up the subject of the food ban in the talks with President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) Democratic Progressive Party scheduled for Dec. 24.