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U.S. mum on resumption of trade talks with Taiwan

2012/08/09 12:46:47

Washington, Aug. 8 (CNA) An American official declined Wednesday to say when long-stalled trade talks between Taiwan and the United States will restart now that Taipei has lifted a ban on the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine in imported beef.

Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis said Washington welcomes the lifting of the ban, but added that "we'll have to see how that is implemented over the course of the next few months."

Marantis made the remarks on the sideline of a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.

Taiwan's Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation July 25 to allow imports of beef containing traces of the feed addictive. The Department of Health then decided to set a cap for the allowable residue level at 10 parts per billion (ppb) later that month.

It is expected that more U.S. beef could arrive in mid-September at the earliest.

Now that the ban has been lifted, Taiwan has expressed hope that talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) can be resumed as soon as possible.

Talks under the TIFA, which provides a platform for dialogue on trade and investment issues in the absence of diplomatic ties, have been stalled since 2007 due to U.S. discontent over the beef row.

Asked about the resumption of the talks, he noted that the talks have been "on hold for a while. And the news out of Taiwan on beef, I think , is very positive," he said.

But he also said that "I think we'll have to sort of see how things play out in the next few months before making any decisions on the TIFA."

Marantis, who is responsible for U.S. trade negotiations and enforcement in Asia and Africa, could lead a delegation to Taiwan for talks under the TIFA if the talks resume at the end of this year or early next year.

On Taiwan's hope for joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) , a multilateral free trade agreement that aims to further liberalize the economies of the Asia-Pacific region, he said Taiwan has to convince "both the U.S. and the other TPP partners that Taiwan is a reliable trading partner and is able to meet the high standards that the TPP is negotiating."

President Ma Ying-jeou has said that he hopes Taiwan can join the TPP within eight years to avoid being marginalized as other countries in the region step up integration efforts.

(By Lin Shu-yuan and Lilian Wu)