By Joseph Yeh ,The China Post
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan will seek U.S. support for the nation’s participation in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade bloc at the next round of the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) later this week, local official said yesterday. Kelly Hsieh (謝武樵), head of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of North American Affairs, told a news briefing yesterday that Taiwan and the U.S. will hold their eighth round of TIFA talks on April 4 in Washington, D.C. The talks will be headed by Taiwan’s Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Cho Shih-chao (卓士昭) and Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler.
During the talks, Taiwanese officials will seek to demonstrate to the U.S. all the efforts Taiwan’s government has made so far in the area of trade liberalization in order to seek U.S. support for Taiwan’s participation in TPP, Hsieh said. The TIFA was signed in 1994 as a framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade issues in the absence of diplomatic ties, but was suspended from 2007 to 2012 mainly because of controversies over imports of American beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine. The U.S. has regarded Taiwan’s ractopamine ban as a trade barrier and implied on numerous occasions that a resumption of bilateral talks under the TIFA rested on the resolution of the beef issue. On July, 2012, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan passed amendments to a food safety act, paving the way for the country to import U.S. beef containing ractopamine. The talks were resumed in March 2013 in Taipei.
Pork Issue at Hand After Taiwan’s lifting of its ban on ractopamine in beef products, the U.S. has been pushing the country to establish a maximum residue level for ractopamine used in pork.
Asked to comment if the pork issue will be a major topic during the upcoming talks, Hsieh said that agricultural topics will be a major agenda item during the Washington meeting, but more detailed information was not available. The Taiwanese delegation was scheduled to depart Taipei for Washington later yesterday. Prior to its departure, Cho told reporters that it is likely that the U.S. will bring up the pork issue during the talks, but he stressed that the Taiwanese delegation will reiterate local government concerns regarding food safety on ractopamine use in pork.