TAIPEI - Taiwan has no plan to lift its current ban on the imports of US pork containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.
Kelly Hsieh, head of MOFA's Department of North American Affairs, yesterday said at a regular news briefing that Taiwan's government has no plan to change the ban despite US's repeatedly expressed concern.
"We will continue to talk to US counterparts to make clear our stance," Hsieh said.
The MOFA official made the remarks when asked to comment on remarks made by two US senior officials' last month who said that Taiwan needs to resolve issues surrounding the import of US meat products to speed up its push to join the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Asked by The China Post what Taiwan can do to speed up the process for Taiwan to join the TPP, William Craft, deputy assistant secretary for trade policy and programs at the US State Department's Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, said at a press event in Washington, D.C. on March 26 that the US beef and pork import issue is something that Taiwan needs to deal with.
Saying that Taiwan's ban on certain US meat products is not based on solid science, the US official said this kind of protectionism is a problem the US currently has with a number of Asian countries.
He noted that the US continues to push "every place where we feel that people are trying to hide behind false science for protectionist purposes."It will certainly facilitate things if Taiwan could help resolve our longstanding concerns about this matter," he added.
Speaking during the same event, Robert Wang, a US senior official at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), said the ractopamine issue had complicated bilateral trade talks before.
He said the US government made the same point to a Taiwanese delegation consisting of former economic officials during its recent visit to Washington.
"They (members of the Taiwanese delegation) clearly got the message that we need to resolve this agricultural issue in order to increase the chances of Taiwan moving ahead to join TPP," he noted.
Asked to comment, Hsieh yesterday confirmed that the US has repeatedly expressed its concern over Taiwan's regulations on agricultural products from the US
But he stressed that bilateral communication has been taking place smoothly on the issue as both sides have talked about it during the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks.
After Taiwan's lifting of its ban on ractopamine in beef products in 2012, the US has been pushing the country to establish a maximum residue level for ractopamine used in pork as it did in beef.
The Taiwanese government, however, has insisted that it will not lift a ban on US pork imports containing the additive ractopamine.