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Joint Statement From USTR, USDA On The Proposed Passage Of An Amendment To Taiwan's Food Sanitation Act

December 29, 2009

Washington, D.C. - The Office of the United States Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture today released a brief statement regarding the proposed amendment to Taiwan's Food Sanitation Act that would bar import of some U.S. beef and beef products. The following statement is from Deputy United States Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis and Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Jim Miller:

We are deeply concerned and disappointed by reports that Taiwan's Legislative Yuan has taken initial steps toward the passage of an amendment to the Food Sanitation Act that contains provisions that would unjustifiably bar the import of certain U.S. beef and beef products.

The proposed amendment's provisions do not have a basis in science or fact and thus in no way serve to protect Taiwan's food supply. If passed, this amendment would represent a new barrier to U.S. beef exports to Taiwan, and would constitute a unilateral abrogation of a bilateral agreement concluded in good faith by the United States with Taiwan just two months ago. The Taiwan authorities should consider very carefully the impact that passage of the amendment in its current form would have on Taiwan's reputation as a reliable trading partner and responsible member of the international community. Science and facts - not politics or hyperbole - should govern our trade and economic relations.

The United States has implemented a comprehensive set of measures, regulations, and practices that are science-based, consistent with the guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) for minimizing the risk posed by BSE. The OIE is recognized by the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the relevant standard-setting body for regulations relating to animal health. These measures allow us to assure consumers in the United States, Taiwan and elsewhere that U.S. beef and beef products - including offals and ground beef - are safe. Millions of American families enjoy these products every day.

We have worked closely with Taiwan to provide all information necessary for Taiwan to fully evaluate these measures in the preparation of the Department of Health's final risk assessment, which determined that U.S. beef and beef products are safe. In the interests of science-based trade with Taiwan, the United States has provided research, data, scientific experts, technical assistance, as well as detailed information regarding U.S. risk mitigation measures, all of which have underscored the safety of the relevant U.S. beef and beef products.

After over two years of extensive negotiations and scientific and technical exchanges, we concluded an agreement, the "Protocol of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)-Related Measures for the Importation of Beef and Beef Products for Human Consumption from the Territory of the Authorities Represented by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT)," on expanded market access for U.S. beef and beef products. The Protocol is science-based, consistent with the OIE guidelines, the domestic legal obligations of both sides, as well as the findings of Taiwan's own risk assessment. The Protocol thus provides further assurances that U.S. beef and beef products to be exported to Taiwan - which are the same products that are consumed by Americans at home - are safe.

This is a serious matter that concerns us greatly and we are monitoring the legislative process very closely.