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Taiwan, U.S. expected to discuss resumption of trade talks in October

2012/07/30 16:31:24

New York, July 29 (CNA) Taiwan and the United States are expected to discuss the resumption of long-stalled trade talks in October, Taiwan's top envoy to the United States said Sunday, following Taiwan's decision to allow conditional import of U.S. beef containing a banned substance.

Taiwan is expected to officially announce its decision to conditionally lift the ban on beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine in September, representative Jason Yuan said.

Following the announcement, the two sides should start discussing when to resume talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in October, at the latest, said Yuan in New York, where he he was accompanying former Vice President Lien Chan to a meeting of academics.

It is hopeful that the TIFA talks, which have been halted for five years, can then restart by the end of the year, Yuan added.

Taiwan's Legislature passed amendments to a food safety act last week to conditionally allow entry to beef imports containing ractopamine, a move primarily targeted at appeasing Washington, which has long railed against Taiwan's restrictions on beef imports.

Conditions governing imports include setting a safe level for ractopamine residues in beef, issuing separate permits for the importation of beef and pork, mandating labeling of beef imports, and excluding imports of internal beef organs.

So far, messages received from the U.S. have been positive, with the U.S. Congress and the Office of the United States Trade Representative praising President Ma Ying-jeou for his determination to solve the trade issue, Yuan said.

Talks under the TIFA, which is seen as a precursor to a fully fledged free trade agreement, have been halted since 2007 due to the beef dispute, which originally centered on concerns over the safety of U.S. beef following the discovery of mad-cow disease cases there.

Washington considered resuming TIFA talks in late 2010, but decided against the idea in early 2011 after Taiwan seized shipments of U.S. beef containing the drug, which is banned in Taiwan and a number of European nations.

(By Leaf Chiang and Scully Hsiao)