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News 1921 views last update:7 Aug 2012

Taiwan and US at stalemate over ractopamine

Taiwan/US trade talks were due to resume in early January but were put on hold when a resolution over ractopamine levels permitted by Taiwan was not found.

The US postponed the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks,  after Taiwan blocked some shipments of US beef after finding that they contained residue of ractopamine (banned by Taiwan), an animal feed additive that promotes leanness. A TIFA is a trade pact that establishes a framework for expanding trade and resolving outstanding disputes between countries. TIFAs are often seen as an important step toward establishing free trade agreements.
 
Taiwan Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Sheng-Chung Lin said last week the amount of boneless beef imported from the US has continued to drop recently and that his government understands the US's concerns over Taipei's stance regarding imports of the meat, Central News Agency reported. However, he pointed out that Taiwan's regulations do not allow for any traces of ractopamine in meat. According to Lin, Taiwan has laid out its current regulations but the US has not accepted them.
 
Because of the stalemate, "we can only wait to see if either side adopts a new stance before consultations can continue," he said.
 
Lin was responding to US Trade Representative Ronald Kirk, who said earlier in Washington that if Taiwan-US trade talks are to be resumed, Taiwan must abide by its commitments and not reject US beef on health grounds, as scientific assessments have shown it to be safe.
 
Both the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture and the Department of Health have said they will wait for the conclusions of a meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) in July that will set minimum allowable ractopamine levels before considering whether to revise the ban.
The CAC was created in 1963 by the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization and World Health Organization to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice.
 
Ractopamine is banned in 160 countries, including all European countries.

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