November 12, 2008
The issue of the full opening of the Taiwanese market to US beef must be resolved if bilateral economic and trade talks between the two countries is to progress smoothly, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday (Nov 11, 2008).
Washington has told Taiwan that US beef is the top priority among all US-Taiwan issues, said Michael Hsu Peiyung, deputy director-general of the MOFA's Department of North American Affairs.
Hsu said the promotion of some economic and trade issues would be affected unless the problem of a full opening up of the Taiwan market to US beef is resolved.
The annual US-Taiwan Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFA) talks have been postponed due to the US beef issue.
The Taiwan government is in serious discussion over the US beef problem due to the sensitivity of the issue, especially after China's recent melamine scandal, said Hsu.
Hsu said a full opening of the Taiwanese market to US beef is possible given that the product is safe. The Taiwan government will also have to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment and strengthen on public communication and education on the issue before they approve US beef imports, said Hsu.
Taiwan imports 20 percent of its beef from the US, but limits it to only boneless meat from cattle less than 30 months.