Two political parties in Taiwan agreed this week to reinstate a ban on some kinds of U.S. beef imports amid concerns that the government lacks safeguards against bovine spongiform encephalopathy - or mad cow disease.
The parties' decision will likely reverse the decision by Taiwanese president in October to lift a previous ban to allow imports of ground U.S. beef and offal and also U.S. bone-in beef. Protesters have staged rallies against the reopening of the market demanding a referendum on the issue. They claim U.S. beef imports could bring in mad cow disease.
The decision is expected to be voted on next week.
USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative have reacted to the news of the impending ban on U.S. beef products in Taiwan. The joint statement notes that Taiwan's move "does not have a basis in science or fact and this in now way serves to protect Taiwan's food supply. If passed this amendment would represent a new trade 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 statement notes that 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 ensure consumers in the United States, Taiwan and elsewhere that U.S. beef and beef products --including offals and ground beef -- are safe, and millions of American families enjoy these products every day."
The joint statement also notes that USDA and the USTR believe "this is a serious matter that concerns us greatly and we are monitoring the legislation process very closely."