Washington applauds ‘beef bill’ amendments

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterda y welcomed the Legislative Yuan’s passage of amendments to a food safety act that pave the way for Taiwan to import U.S. beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine. In a statement, the AIT, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of an official diplomatic relationship, said: “We look forward to the quick implementation of the maximum residue level for ractopamine and the resumption of expanded access for U.S. beef in the Taiwan market.” “We also look forward to resuming efforts to expand our vital bilateral trade and investment ties that benefit us both,” it added. The U.S. government has stated on many occasions that the beef import issue is the main obstacle which has prevented the resumption of talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) since 2010. The passage of the amendments could lead to TIFA negotiations in the near future, but AIT spokeswoman Sheila Paskman yesterday refused to give a timetable for their resumption. AIT Director’s Words In a separate statement yesterday, outgoing AIT Director William Stanton said the lawmakers’ decision solidified the day as a “good day for Taiwan consumers, the Taiwan democratic process, free trade, and for U.S.-Taiwan relations.”

The de facto U.S. ambassador expressed gratitude to President Ma Ying-jeou and the ruling administration as well as to lawmakers, businesspeople and media, “who fought to have this issue decided on the basis of international, science-based standards.” Stanton, who will end his three-year tenure as AIT head and 34-year career in the Foreign Service by the end of this month, said the passage is personally gratifying to him. “During my three years as AIT director, I have dedicated a great deal of effort to see that the Taiwan market is open to U.S. beef,” he was quoted in the statement.

Calling the result the best conclusion to his term as AIT director, Stanton said he could not think of a better way to end his career than to have this issue resolved in a positive way. “I know that as I continue to live in Taiwan, I look forward to enjoying delicious U.S. beef dinners with my many Taiwan friends in the excellent restaurants here in Taiwan,” it said. Stanton previously announced that he will be staying in Taiwan and will be teaching at Taipei American School following his retirement. TIFA Talks to Resume ASAP: MOFA Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday also welcomed the outcome of the ractopamine bill. MOFA spokesman Steve Hsia said the ministry hopes the passage means TIFA talks can be resumed as soon as possible. “There are some technical issues to be negotiated by both sides’ trade departments but we hope the talks can be reopened by the end of this year or early next year,” Hsia said.