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Taiwan will drop a ban on imports of U.S. beef, ending a major irritant in trade relations with the United States. The original ban was put in place six years ago after a case of mad cow disease was found on the West Coast of the United States.
Imports of U.S. beef with bone will likely resume sometime in November. The agreement was signed in Washington, D.C. as part of set of marketing opening measures.
U.S. exporters will be required to follow a Department of Agriculture quality assessment to ensure that U.S. bone-in beef entering Taiwan is from cattle less than 30 months of age and meets other requirements. Mad Cow disease can cause a fatal brain-wasting disease in humans.
In 2007, the World Organization for Animal Health declared the risk from mad cow disease from U.S. beef to be under control. Other countries have dropped bans on U.S. beef in recent years.
But when South Korea lifted its ban in 2008, the result was the largest anti-government protests seen in 20 years.
Taiwanese government officials have taken pains to gauge the public reaction from the move, citing the situation in South Korea. In Taipei Friday, Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang addressed those concerns.
Yaung says the standard will not be lower than South Korea's. The imported bone-in beef should be from cattle younger than 30 months.
Over the past three years, U.S. officials have applied steady pressure on Taiwan to open its market Despite the ban on bone-in beef, U.S. beef imports overall have increased steadily to a record $136 million.