AIT, MOFA keep quiet on cancellation of TIFA talks


CNA

TAIPEI–The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday both declined to confirm the reported postponement of a new round of trade talks between the United States and Taiwan.

The meeting under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), originally slated for late this month in Taipei, was canceled by the U.S. after some American beef products found to contain residue from an animal drug were taken off the market, Taiwanese economic officials were quoted as saying Saturday morning.

“We are still examining the possibility of resuming the talks,” AIT spokesman Chris Kavanagh said Saturday afternoon.

MOFA spokesman James Chang said his ministry had not received any information about the talks.

The TIFA, signed in September 1994,provides an official framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade and economic issues in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

The two countries, however, have not held any TIFA talks since 2007 due chiefly to a conflict over a Taiwanese ban on U.S. beef imports over mad cow disease concern.

The United States urged Taiwan last week to follow in the steps of other countries, such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, and set a maximum residual level (MRL) of the animal drug ractopamine allowable in meat.

If the meeting is not held next week, it could take place as early as the second week of February since the weeklong Lunar New Year vacation starts Feb. 2.