The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) has reiterated its long-held stance that US meat products are safe to eat and Taiwanese consumers should have the freedom to choose to purchase.
In an email to local press sent Tuesday, AIT spokesman Mark Zimmer reiterated Washington's stance on the safety of US meat products and added that Taiwan's food safety regulations should be based on established science.
"In all of our bilateral trade and economic discussions, the United States raises the importance of Taiwan's basing its food safety regulations on established science and ensuring laws and regulations that affect agriculture market access are in line with Taiwan's bilateral and international trade commitments," he said.
Noting that American meat exports have been proven safe by international standards bodies, the AIT official said "Taiwan consumers should have the freedom to choose to purchase them, and US agricultural exports are not the cause of Taiwan's food safety challenges."
Zimmer made the remarks when asked to comment on whether the US has been pressuring Taiwan to further open import of internal organs of US beef products in exchange to help Taiwan to join the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) regional economic bloc.
Local media reported earlier this week that Taiwan's government has agreed to do so in order to facilitate its push for joining the TPP to avoid been marginalised.
The Economics Ministry has previously refuted the allegation. But it did confirm that it is mulling whether to further open imported beef offal from the US
Asked if the US meat products import issue will be a key factor in deciding whether to include Taiwan in the TPP, the AIT spokesman in his email did not make a direct response to the question.
Instead, he reiterated that Washington welcomes Taipei's interest in the TPP.
"The TPP is open to regional economies that can demonstrate this readiness and win the consensus support of current TPP members for them to join," he said.
"Right now, the 12 TPP members are focused on concluding the negotiations to create the TPP."