Agri­cul­ture min­is­ter speaks against pro­tec­tion­ism for lo­cal in­dus­tries

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY ENRU LIN

The agri­cul­ture min­is­ter said yesterday that the gov­ern­ment should sup­port do­mes­tic in­dus­tries hurt by trade lib­er­al­iza­tion, but not by main­tain­ing im­port bar­ri­ers.

Chen Bao-ji ( ), min­is­ter of the Coun­cil of Agri­cul­ture (COA,

), said that free trade could have neg­a­tive reper­cus­sions for some do­mes­tic sec­tors.

The gov­ern­ment should pro­vide sup­port but not in the form of main­tain­ing im­port bar­ri­ers, Chen said at the Leg­isla­tive Yuan yesterday.

“Tai­wan wishes to join the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP). We must ad­just the struc­ture of the agri­cul­tural sec­tor rather than block goods from the out­side,” he said.

The re­mark came a day af­ter U.S. ne­go­tia­tors broached the topic of Tai­wan’s im­port ban on Amer­i­can pork dur­ing the latest round of Trade and In­vest­ment Frame­work Agree­ment (TIFA) talks.

The Amer­i­can In­sti­tute in Tai­wan (AIT) said on Fri­day that the TIFA talks, which ad­dressed top­ics re­lated to Tai­wan’s en­try in the TPP, saw progress on agri­cul­tural is­sues but that fur­ther work was needed.

Amer­i­can pork im­ports con- tain­ing a con­tro­ver­sial feed ad­di­tive are a key stum­bling block to stronger trade re­la­tions be­tween Tai­wan and the United States.

The U.S. has said it hopes Tai­wan can ac­cept meat im­ports con­tain­ing the ad­di­tive rac­topamine as a con­di­tion for mov­ing for­ward on the trade agenda.

The Euro­pean Union cur­rently bans U.S. meat con­tain­ing rac­topamine on con­cerns that it could lead to health prob­lems, though U.S. author­i­ties have said stud­ies show that rac­topamine is safe for hu­man con­sump­tion.

Chen yesterday stressed that Tai­wan’s ban on rac­topamine in pork is pred­i­cated on safety con­cerns; the U.S. has said it sees the ban as pro­tec­tion­ism.

On Free Trade

At the Leg­isla­tive Yuan, Kuom­intang ( KMT) Leg­is­la­tor Yang Chi­ung-ying ( ) urged the COA to ex­clude agri­cul­tural prod­ucts from Tai­wan’s free-trade zones in or­der to safe­guard the rights of lo­cal farm­ers.

Yang said the free-trade zones could be do­ing harm to the lo­cal agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

For ex­am­ple, Tai­wan law does not al­low peanut im­ports, but in­side free-trade zones for­eign man­u­fac­tur­ers are al­lowed to use im­ported peanuts to pro­duce pea- nut but­ter, she said.

The prod­ucts can be sold in Tai­wan at the ex­pense of lo­cal agri­cul­tural prod­ucts. The cen­tral gov­ern­ment has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect spe­cific in­dus­tries hit by the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of trade lib­er­al­iza­tion, she said.

Chen said ban­ning agri­cul­tural prod­ucts from free-trade zones was “an in­cor­rect way to view the sit­u­a­tion.”

“No man­u­fac­turer” in­sists on us­ing lo­cally pro­duced raw ma­te­ri­als when mak­ing pro­cessed goods for the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket, he said.

“Not one in­gre­di­ent in Tai­wan’s beef noo­dle soup is lo­cally pro­duced, but the end prod­uct is world fa­mous,” he said.

Pork In­dus­try Re­it­er­ates Op­po­si­tion

The Re­pub­lic of China Swine As­so­ci­a­tion ( ) yesterday re­it­er­ated its op­po­si­tion to re­lax­ing Tai­wan’s ban on Amer­i­can pork con­tain­ing rac­topamine.

The group’s 8,000 hog farms and re­lated busi­nesses — which have a pro­duc­tion value of NT$66.5 bil­lion — are in full op­po­si­tion, said Re­pub­lic of China Swine As­so­ci­a­tion Sec­re­taryGen­eral Chan Sheng-chin ( ).

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