Taipei, June 11 (CNA) Taiwan reiterated Wednesday its position on the issue of its ban on imports of U.S. pork containing the leanness enhancing drug ractopamine, in response to a U.S. official's remarks on Taiwan's bid to join a proposed U.S.-led regional trade bloc.
Ministry of Economic Affairs officials said that Taiwan will "strive for what we need to," when negotiating with the U.S. on trade-related issues, but reiterated that the policy of dealing with pork and beef imports separately remains unchanged for the time being.
The statements were in response to remarks by Wendy Cutler, acting deputy U.S. trade representative, who raised the possibility of a two-track approach by the U.S. on negotiations related to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bloc.
Cutler cited the U.S.-Japan example when answering questions on Taiwan's bid to join the TPP and the issue of U.S. pork imports during a conference held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
Her remarks suggested that if Taiwan wants to join the TPP, it will need to address outstanding bilateral trade issues.
In the two-track consultations with Japan, Cutler said, the U.S. needs to make sure that Japan is ready to take on the high-level commitments of the TPP and that both sides will have to work through bilateral areas of concern, which include auto and insurance issues.
The U.S. is also taking the same type of two-track consultations with other TPP candidate countries such as South Korea, she added.
"That is the approach we follow when holding TPP consultations with respective candidates," she said.
The U.S. has long been concerned about Taiwan's ban on imports of U.S. pork containing ractopamine, and this is seen as one of the issues that need to be addressed during negotiations concerning Taiwan's TPP bid.
On the issue of imports of U.S. pork, the economic officials said that "we will approach the issue based on our policies and regulations." But for the time being, Taiwan insists on its existing separate regulations for pork and beef imports, they said.
Taiwan lifted its ban on U.S. beef containing the drug in July 2012, paving the way for the resumption of talks under the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in March 2013 after a hiatus of more than five years.
The 12 existing TPP countries are trying to finish the first round of negotiations and will not accept any new members until the first round of negotiations have been completed.
Taiwanese government agencies, including the ministries of economic affairs, education, welfare and health and the Financial Supervisory Commission, are trying to review domestic regulations to see if they can be brought into line with the high standards required by the TPP.
(By Huang Chiao-wen, Lin Shu-yuan and Elaine Hou)
●June 5: Taiwan-U.S. pact should not be linked to pork dispute: official