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Taiwan eases rules on US pork, beef imports


Taiwan's economy is highly dependent on foreign trade. To become a key player in the restructuring of the global supply chain, it must forge closer relations with other world economies, especially the largest of all, the United States. In consideration of Taiwan's trade interests and overall strategic economic development, President Tsai Ing-wen announced August 28, 2020 that Taiwan will permit imports of U.S. pork containing ractopamine and U.S. beef from cattle over 30 months old. The president also ordered that a complementary set of measures be in place before the January 1 implementation to safeguard the nation's health while protecting the incomes of hog farmers. Of key importance was the establishment of feed additive residue limits based on scientific evidence and international standards.

This crucial move to resolve years of indecision over U.S. pork and beef imports is expected to deepen Taiwan-U.S. trade relations and bolster Taiwan's case for joining regional trade blocs like the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Taiwan will also have opportunities for closer trade relations with other countries and to expand its international space for economic and trade growth.

Complementary measures

Ensure food safety:
Five specific management protocols have been adopted to guarantee food safety. Pork processors in the U.S. that have not previously exported to Taiwan must first undergo onsite inspection by Taiwan officials before being eligible. Additionally, imports of pork products are now subject to shipment-by-shipment inspection at the border. Pork product manufacturers must clearly indicate the origin of pork used in a manner easily distinguishable by the public, while importers must provide country-of-origin labelling and import origin statements to facilitate food traceability. Finally, enhanced inspections will be conducted and overseen on a special-case basis.

Maximum residue limits of ractopamine in pork have now been established, and a ban placed on imports of high-risk beef parts including skulls, brains and eyes.

Boosting domestic hog farming competitiveness:
As part of an overall plan to transform and upgrade Taiwan's domestic pork farming industry, the government will invest nearly NT$13 billion (US$460 million) in an industry fund over the next four years. The plan specifies multiple advisory strategies aimed at minimizing the impact to hog farming incomes and enhancing the sustainable competitiveness of the nation's pork producers. These include stabilizing sales and earnings for hog farmers, subsidizing premiums for compulsory animal mortality insurance, strategically expanding Taiwan pork exports, promoting slaughterhouse modernization and upgrading cold-chain transport, and providing pig farms guidance on the update and upgrade of facilities. Pork product traceability, safety testing and case-by-case inspection will also be strengthened, and diversified, integrated marketing strategies for pork and pork product producers adopted.

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