Taipei, June 1 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Friday he hopes the controversy over U.S. beef imports can be resolved soon to pave the way for resumption of trade talks with the United States.
Ma said in an interview with Reuters that reopening talks with the U.S. under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) is part of his efforts to build a foundation that would break down protectionism and promote free trade across the Taiwan Strait and with other major trading partners.
TIFA talks have been suspended since 2007 due to a row over Taiwan's restrictions on imports of American beef. Ma said his administration is prepared to ease restrictions on U.S. beef imports to facilitate the reopening of TIFA talks.
Once a package of revisions to the country's food safety act clears the legislative floor in the near future, Taiwan will allow imports of U.S. beef containing residues of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine that is now banned in Taiwan, Ma said.
In his first interview with a foreign media since his re-election in January, Ma also stressed the need for Taiwan to move quickly to liberalize its economy further and shift local industries' focus to creativity to complement their efficiency, he said.
"I want to finish these jobs promptly so that we can build the base for Taiwan for the next 20 to 30 years," he was quoted as saying by Reuters.
"But I only have four years, so no matter how efficient I am, I won't be able to complete all the tasks. What I can do is build the foundation."
(By Kelvin Huang and Sofia Wu)