Taiwan must address pork issue before it can join TPP

The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Taiwan must address its U.S. pork issue if it wants to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Taiwan has banned U.S. pork because of the industry’s use of the feed additive ractopamine, which is widely used in U.S. pork production. Ironically, Taiwan dropped in 2012 its ban on U.S. beef from cattle fed ractopamine, which also is widely used in the U.S. beef industry.

Taiwan’s domestic beef industry is small in comparison to its powerful pork industry, which explains the country’s disparate treatment of the two U.S. meats. Ractopamine is approved for use in hogs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and by the food-safety agencies in 25 other countries. In 2012, the U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius Commission, which sets international standards for food safety, approved a maximum residue limit for ractopamine, which U.S. pork meets.

MOFA also warned that Taiwan needs to take steps to meet high international standards if it wants to join the TPP, including “scientific evidence as the basis for trade issues.” The TPP, which concluded Oct. 5, includes the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, which combined account for about 40% of the world’s economy.

Past U.S. free trade agreements, which have substantially reduced or eliminated trade barriers, demonstrate the importance to the U.S. pork industry of opening foreign markets. Since 1989 — the year the United States began using bilateral and regional trade agreements to open foreign markets — U.S. pork exports have increased by 1,550% in value and 1,268% in volume and now are valued at nearly $6.7 billion.

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