By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post
Taiwan’s promise to resolve the beef dispute with the United States was not made by the incumbent Kuomintang (KMT) administration but was raised during the previous Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said yesterday. “The previous Chen Shui-bian administration said it would resolve the ractopamine issue,” AIT spokesperson Chris Kavanagh told reporters yesterday. Chen’s administration had notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it would establish a Maximum Residual Level (MRL) for the leanness-enhancing drug, he noted. However, the Chen administration later decided to drop the proposal amid strong protest in Taiwan, the spokesman noted. The promise to solve the U.S. beef issue was not made by the incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou administration, he stressed. The AIT official made the clarification in the wake of a local media’s interview with its director William Stanton that was released Thursday. During the interview with the Central News Agency, Stanton reportedly said that the Taiwan government had previously promised to make progress in the beef issue. The reported government commitment was seen by some as an implication that the Ma administration could have some under-the-table deal with the U.S. The Cabinet’s recent announcement to allow imports of American beef containing ractopamine may have been done in exchange for gaining membership in the U.S.’ Visa Waiver Program, some argued.
AIT Reiterates Beef Safety Asked to comment, Kavanagh told reporters yesterday that such a promise was not made by the current KMT government but by their DPP counterparts. To make his point, the AIT spokesman even handed reporters copies of a notification submitted by the Chen administration to the WTO in 2007, which said that his government was going to allow ractopamine use in pigs and cattle. ”What happened was that pig farmers … protested and the government backed down,” he said. Asked to comment on the recent protests in Taiwan against lifting a ban on beef containing residue of the leanness-enhancing drug, Kavanagh said Taiwan is a free and democratic society and everyone has right to present their viewpoint.