Agriculture minister speaks against protectionism for local industries
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 ( ).