Taipei, June 7 (CNA) Deputy Economics Minister Francis Liang said Thursday if the Legislature passes a bill on June 12 to allow imports of U.S. beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, Taiwan and the U.S. may resume trade talks this year.
Taiwan and the U.S. currently do not have a clear timetable on the resumption of bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), largely due to Taiwan's ban on U.S. beef imports containing ractopamine, which the U.S. regards as a trade barrier, Liang said at a press conference.
Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji, Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta, Bruce Linghu, director-general of the Department of North American Affairs under the Foreign Ministry, and Food and Drug Administration Director-General Kang Jaw-jou also attended the event.
They reiterated the Cabinet's principle of allowing imports of U.S. beef as long as residues of ractopamine are within safety limits, permits for beef and pork imports are separated, mandatory labeling is implemented and imports of internal organs are banned.
Kang said the U.S. currently has a maximum permitted limit of 30 parts per billion, while Japan and South Korea allows a maximum of 10 ppb, the strictest of international standards, adding that Taiwan is inclined to adopt the limit set by its Asian neighbors.
Chiu said the ministry will enhance mandatory requirement for beef products to indicate the country of origin on their labels.
Owners of restaurants and food stands also need to let their customers know the country of origin of the beef they use, Chiu said, adding that a failure to do so will result in a maximum fine of NT$150,000 (US$5,000).
Chen said Taiwan will ensure U.S. pork containing ractopamine will continue to be barred from entry into Taiwan.
The TIFA, which was signed in 1994, has been put on indefinite hold mainly because of the U.S.' dissatisfaction with Taiwan's beef ban, which the U.S. has been pushing to be lifted.
(By Chen Wei-ting and Ann Chen)