Long-stalled trade talks between the United States and Taiwan will restart once Taiwan formally sets a standard for the maximum amount of a banned veterinary drug that can be allowed in beef, a Taiwanese diplomat said Thursday.
Talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) will likely resume at the end of this year or early next year, after health authorities in Taiwan establish maximum residue levels in beef for the leanness-enhancing feed additive ractopamine, said Leo Lee, Taiwan’s deputy representative to the US
Taiwan’s Legislature passed amendments to a food safety act Wednesday allowing ractopamine in beef, a move primarily targeted at appeasing Washington, which has long railed against Taiwan’s restrictions on beef imports.
Talks under the bilateral TIFA, which is seen as a precursor to a full-fledged free trade agreement, have been shelved since 2007 due to the beef dispute, which originally centered on concerns over the safety of US beef following the discovery of mad-cow disease cases there.
Washington considered resuming talks in late 2010 but decided against the idea in early 2011 after Taiwan seized shipments of US beef containing the banned drug.
With the ban lifted, working-level meetings for the TIFA are expected to be held in Taipei after September at the earliest, Lee said.
Both sides also need time to deal with administrative issues, and Lee cited the Ministry of Economic Affairs as saying that the talks might not resume until early next year.
Among the issues Taiwan would like to put on the agenda are facilitating trade and investment and easing e-commmerce and trade barriers, Lee said, quoting the ministry.
On the other hand, the US is highly concerned about trade barriers, intellectual property rights, medicine and Taiwan’s rice quota, Lee said.