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Government committed to food safety with easing of US meat import rules

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At a Cabinet meeting Thursday, Premier Su Tseng-chang received a Council of Agriculture (COA) briefing on follow-up plans to Taiwan's decision to ease restrictions on U.S. pork and beef imports, which will require careful balancing of trade, food safety and local industry considerations. Ministries and agencies should endeavor not only to open the doors of trade but also to boost the domestic pork industry's competitiveness while safeguarding Taiwan's food safety and public health, he said.

Taiwan is an export-driven country, Premier Su continued. Exports represent 54 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, at approximately NT$10 trillion (US$338.6 billion), so it is imperative for Taiwan's products to gain access to markets abroad. With the U.S.-China trade war and the coronavirus pandemic redrawing the global trade map and accelerating the restructuring of global supply chains, President Tsai Ing-wen has set specific and strategic goals for Taiwan's future, including opening up trade to make Taiwan more competitive.

The U.S., in particular, is Taiwan's most important trading partner, with bilateral trade accounting for 14 percent or about NT$1.4 trillion (US$47.4 billion) of Taiwan's overall foreign trade volume. Taiwan's government is working to achieve maximum benefits for the nation, and President Tsai's decision to relax the meat import restrictions was promptly applauded and welcomed by U.S. officials and organizations, including Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, members of Congress, the White House National Security Council, the departments of agriculture and commerce, and various trade associations and think tanks.

Food safety is a priority for the public as well as a key government duty owed to the people of Taiwan. Now that the U.S. meat import policy has been announced, relevant food products will be subject to labelling requirements, with strict inspection and heavy fines for violations. Premier Su directed the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the COA and other responsible ministries and agencies to create stamps and labels, so that at a glance consumers will be able to distinguish choices and make decisions. The premier also instructed local governments to properly manage food traceability and carry out market inspections.

As for domestic pig farming, Premier Su lauded the remarkable competitiveness of Taiwan's pork producers. Local pig farmers have expressed gratitude for the government's success in preventing a domestic outbreak of African swine fever, and in securing Taiwan's recognition as a foot-and-mouth disease-free country where vaccination is not practiced. Taiwan is now able to export pork products to Macau and Singapore, with the Philippine market set to open in November. The premier also pointed to President Tsai's support for a COA proposal to strengthen and upgrade the domestic pig farming industry by establishing an NT$10 billion (US$338.6 million) industry development fund. This powerful boost for local pork producers not only provides needed assistance but can also help enhance the competitiveness of Taiwan's pork exports.

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