Ma holds 2nd Security Council meeting over import of US beef

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–President Ma Ying-jeou held the second National Security Council meeting over the U.S. beef import yesterday, after three meetings of experts conducted by Council of Agriculture (COA). Pros and cons of three options — banning beef import completely, opening under conditions, opening completely—were evaluated by all related government department officials. COA reported in the meeting that the small residue amount of ractopamine found in U.S. beef does not pose any threat to consumers. If Taiwan bans beef import completely, citizens will feel safe when buying beef under this policy. Relations between Taiwan and U.S., however, will be shaky and process toward free trade between Taiwan and other countries will be slowed down. Furthermore, Korea, Taiwan’s main competitor, is aggressive in signing free trade agreements with other nations and Taiwan might lose its competitiveness to Korea.

If Taiwan opens the import of U.S. beef under certain conditions, Taiwan will be able to find a balance between citizens’ confidence and good relations with U.S., but Taiwan will have to establish a standard for additive residues of U.S. beef. If Taiwan opens U.S. beef import completely, Taiwan can improve its relations with U.S., possibly sign a free trade agreement with the U.S. government, and compete with Korea under a more favorable condition. Opposition party, however, might gain an upper hand because of the U.S. beef issue and challenge the Kuomintang (KMT). Presidential Office Spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) stated that the standpoints of “three NOs” of the Presidential Office has not changed—no pre-set policy positions, no timetable, no commitment with the U.S. government. According to local media, under current condition, it is unlikely for the government to open U.S. beef import completely. New Measures Established by Department of Health To mitigate public suspicion over the safety of U.S. beef, DOH announced its new measures to examine U.S. beef. DOH will demand local health departments to monitor U.S. beef. In addition, DOH will clarify its policy with U.S. beef producers and local restaurant owners. Furthermore, DOH will request shop owners to make clear the origins of beef selling in their shops.

Citizens can contact DOH by calling (02)27878200 if they have any doubt concerning U.S. beef. DOH will extend its service time and capacity.

Three levels of custom inspection—ordinary inspection, stricter inspection and lot-by-lot inspection—were set up. If there is one case being found to be problematic, the level of inspection will go up.

DOH announced that they will hold a meeting to discuss health and risk in the near future. A seminar will also be held in April or May.