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No progress made with Taiwan on ractopamine issues

U.S. pork exports to Taiwan continue to suffer without establishment of maximum residue level for the feed additive.

The U.S. and Taiwan recently held the latest round of negotiations for their Trade & Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in Washington, D.C. The talks covered a range of trade and investment issues, including Taiwan’s zero-tolerance policy for the presence of ractopamine in imported pork.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) said the policy is in effect despite the fact that Taiwan notified the World Trade Organization in August 2007 that it was tentatively establishing a maximum residue level (MRL) for the feed additive. The MRL was based on studies by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the U.N.’s international food safety standard-setting body. (In 2012, Codex established an MRL for ractopamine, which U.S. pork producers easily meet.)

NPPC said Taiwan withdrew the WTO notification after intense pressure from its pork producers. The country’s ractopamine policy violates the WTO Sanitary-Phytosanitary Agreement, which requires that sanitary-phytosanitary measures be based on scientific evidence and that they be applied onlyto the extent necessary to protect human or animal health.

U.S. exports of pork to Taiwan declined from a high of 31,500 metric tons in 2004 to just 18,739 mt last year. Dermot Hayes, an economist at Iowa State University, estimates that U.S. pork industry losses in the Taiwanese market because of the ractopamine issue could be as much as $150 million annually.

NPPC said the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative expressed disappointment that no progress was made on the ractopamine issue during the latest TIFA talks. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has indicated that her country will consider standards applied by other nations, including Japan and South Korea, which accept pork from hogs fed ractopamine.

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