Taipei, June 8 (CNA) Taiwan's ban on imports of U.S. beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine has impacted bilateral trade relations and needs to be settled before any possible trade pacts can be negotiated, officials said Friday.
The U.S. beef row is the main reason why the two countries havenot held talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) since 2007, Vice Economics Minister Lin Sheng-chung said on the sidelines of an international conference on the World TradeOrganization and global trade.
Washington decided against resuming TIFA talks in early 2011 after Taiwan refused to allow the entry of shipments of U.S. beef containing ractopamine.
"If we can resume TIFA talks, there are many trade problems between the two sides that can be addressed under the agreement," he said, adding that the agreement is the foundation for a possible free trade agreement (FTA).
"It is an important issue that needs to be tackled first," said Lin.
Yiin Chii-ming, head of the Cabinet-level Council for EconomicPlanning and Development, echoed Lin's remarks.
"As long as we go through the process (of settling the beefdispute), we can move on to the next step," Yiin said.
Asked if an FTA can be guaranteed after the beef row is solved,Yiin pointed out that nothing can be 100 percent sure. "We simplyneed to work hard," he added.
In addition to solving the beef row, Taiwan should also broaden its international market for local businesses, Yiin noted.
Given the fact that Taiwan's exports are experiencing negative annual growth for the third consecutive month, the government will focus more on "stronger" emerging markets amid the weak and gloomy global economy, he said.
Speaking on a different occasion that same day, Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang told reporters that he expects Taiwan's exports to pick up in June after the ministry adopted export-boosting measuresin May.
Taiwan exported US$26.1 billion-worth of goods in May, marking a 2.2 percent increase from April but a 6.3 percent year-on-year decrease, according to government statistics.
(By James Lee)