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Beef issue pivotal to resumption of TIFA talks: US official

CNA | 2011/09/15

Beef issue pivotal to resumption of TIFA talks: US official

Taipei, Sept. 15 (CNA) — A visiting high-ranking U.S. official said Thursday that Taiwan’s ban on the importation of specific American beef products is a challenging issue that needs to be addressed before talks can resume over the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) between the two sides.

The beef issue plays a role in the shaping of a favorable investment climate for business people from both sides and affects the progress of TIFA talks, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Suresh Kumar said in an interview with CNA.

The TIFA is an official framework for Taiwan-U.S. dialogue on trade and economic issues in the absence of diplomatic ties. TIFA talks have been suspended since 2007 mainly because of a controversy over beef imports from the U.S.

Asked when the two countries will resume TIFA talks, Kumar said that the beef controversy remains a sticky issue.

"The one challenge we’ve had is the beef issue and it continues to be because nothing is more important to businesses than predictability," he said. "And the second thing which is incredibly important to businesses is sticking with what’s been agreed to."

"This is an area we need to make progress so that we can move forward, as we would like to move forward with TIFA," said the trade expert, who has more than 30 years of experience in business.

Kumar was visiting Taiwan as part of an Asian tour to promote U.S. President Barack Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports in five years. He is the highest-level U.S. official to visit Taiwan since 2002.

In January 2010, Taiwan’s Legislature passed an amendment to the Act Governing Food Safety that banned imports of specific beef products from countries with documented cases of mad cow disease in the past decade.

The U.S. claimed that the amendment barred U.S. ground beef, beef offal and other beef parts such as skulls, eyes, and intestines from Taiwan’s market, in contravention of a bilateral beef trade protocol signed by the two countries. (By Nancy Liu) ENDITEM /pc

 source: CNA