News

Controversial Beef Imports Could Improve Taiwan-US Ties

An employee arranges beef products in a supermarket in Taipei (2009 file photo)
An employee arranges beef products in a supermarket in Taipei (2009 file photo)
Ralph Jennings

A Taiwan Cabinet recommendation to import U.S. beef with a controversial feed additive would remove a barrier to trade relations between the wealthy island and the United States. 

The U.S. is Taiwan’s second-biggest export market after China, but the two sides have not held high-level trade meetings since 2007. Washington cut the talks off in part because Taiwan has not joined Japan, South Korea and 100 other markets in accepting meat imports with a feed additive called ractopamine.  Ractopamine is a drug that is used to make cattle and pigs "meatier".

The tentative plans Taiwan announced this week would set a maximum residue level for the additive in imported beef. The maximum level allowed would be 10 parts per billion.

The spokesman for the de-facto U.S. embassy in Taipei, Christopher Kavanagh, says the additive is safe and explains how Taiwan’s acceptance of it helps future trade ties.

“Taiwan is our 10th largest trade partner, but the beef issue has been a real stumbling block to making further progress," explained Kavanagh. "And so we hope looking forward after Taiwan, if they do set a maximum residue level for beef, that we can continue to move forward on our trade agenda.”

The top U.S. envoy to Taiwan told the island’s Central News Agency on Thursday that letting in beef is crucial to restarting the trade talks that Taiwan has been pushing the United States to restart.

Taiwan is one of the top overseas consumers of American beef, which accounts for about $128 million of total U.S. imports worth more than $26 billion.

China and the European Union also ban U.S. beef with the leanness additive, as some experts fear that it could lead to heart problems in humans. 

Taiwanese have also been leery of U.S. beef in the past.  Public opinion in 2010 pressured Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou to reverse part of a decision to import U.S. meats without the feed additive.

On Thursday, thousands of Taiwanese farmers protested the ractopamine decision in Taipei by hurling eggs and trash at a central-government building.

Ming Chuan University Associate International Affairs Professor Nathan Liu says Taiwanese will ultimately forget about the possible health risks.

“We all understand the U.S. citizens, Koreans and Japanese, they all eat U.S. beef.  This is really not a big issue.  The problem is that the communication between the government and general public is not really that smooth, so I expect these demonstrations, protests to be going on for the next week, but in the end everything will just go down,” Liu said.

Taiwan’s parliament must sign off on the Cabinet decision on a maximum ractopamine level, but most legislators belong to the ruling party and are expected to support the recommendation.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs