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DPP to communicate with U.S. on stance against beef imports

2012/06/15 22:17:45

Taipei, June 15 (CNA) The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said Friday it will communicate with the United States on the party’s boycott of a food safety bill that seeks to lift the ban on U.S. beef imports containing ractopamine residues.

The beef issue is only one of many in Taiwan-U.S. relations, said Liu Shih-chung, director of the DPP's International Affairs Department, in response to an article by former DPP lawmaker Julian Kuo in which he expressed concern about the party's stance against the bill.

In the article published Thursday, Kuo said he was worried about the party's strong opposition to U.S. beef imports containing the livestock leanness-enhancing drug, ractopamine, since that “hardline” position may affect the DPP’s relations with the U.S. and its chances of returning to power.

In response, DPP lawmaker Hsiao Bi-khim said her party understands the strategic importance of the U.S. to Taiwan, but it is the role of the opposition parties to safeguard the health of the Taiwanese people.

Hsiao also said the dispute over beef imports should not affect the ties between the two countries.

Talks between Taiwan and the U.S. under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) that was signed in 1994 but have been suspended since 2007, mainly because of controversies over U.S. beef.

The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) has been arguing that passing the food safety bill will help resume TIFA talks with the U.S.

However, DPP lawmakers have been occupying the Legislature's podium since Monday, blocking the KMT's efforts to hold a vote on amendments to the food safety law.

The DPP legislative caucus said the food safety bill will not clear the legislative floor during this session, which has been extended until 6 p.m. Friday.

Meanwhile, former DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said in Taichung that the Legislature should not be blamed for the ongoing impasse, since it was caused by the KMT administration's mishandling of the issue.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Sophia Yeh, Chen Shu-fen and Kay Liu)
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