Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou Monday called for the resumption of stalled trade talks with the United States after the island recently lifted a six-year-old ban on some U.S. beef imports.
“We hope the Taiwan-U.S. economic and trade negotiations can be placed back on the right track as soon as possible,” Ma said while meeting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose W. Fernandez.
Negotiations between the United States and Taiwan on a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), seen as a precursor to a full-fledged free-trade agreement, have been dormant since 2007.
This was caused by a dispute over imports of beef containing any residual ractopamine, a growth drug used in animal feed to promote lean meat.
But with the removal of the ban, Taiwan feels that the barrier to the talks with the island’s third biggest trading partner is gone, Ma said, according to a presidential office statement.
Ma argued the proposed TIFA talks had become more pressing after Taiwan forged a comprehensive trade agreement with its leading trade partner China in 2010 and an investment protection agreement with Japan, the island’s second-biggest trading partner.
Ma said he hoped the much-anticipated TIFA talks would pave the way for the island’s entry into an ambitious proposed trans-Pacific trade pact.
Taiwan’s parliament, controlled by the ruling Kuomintang party, last month passed a bill to amend a law that had barred imports of U.S. beef containing the growth drug.
Taiwan, China and the European Union ban ractopamine because of possible human health risks, but 26 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and Brazil, have declared the product safe.
Washington had repeatedly urged Taipei to ease restrictions on U.S. beef, indicating that the stalled trade talks between the two sides hinge on the issue.
[image via Agence France-Presse]