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Taiwan To Prohibit US Beef Imports

30 December 2009

US - Taiwan's parliament agreed to amend a food-safety law to ban certain US beef imports amid widespread fears over mad cow disease on the island, potentially straining ties with the US.

Under the deal, minced beef, cow offal and beef from cattle older than 30 months won't be allowed for import into Taiwan, the government-backed Central News Agency reported.

The move would abrogate a bilateral agreement signed by Taiwan and the US two months ago, officials from the US Trade Representative's office and the US Agriculture Department said in a joint statement.

"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," the statement said.

Legislators will vote on the issue early next year, Wang Jin-pyng, president of Taiwan's legislature said, after the ruling Kuomintang and opposition Democratic Progressive Party came to an in-principle agreement to reinstate the ban.

Taiwan first banned US beef in December 2003, after the US found its first case of mad cow disease. In late October, Taiwan said it would lift the age restrictions and reopen its markets to US bone-in beef such as ribs and T-bone steaks. But the public as well as importers have questioned the decision.

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