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Future Talks Concerning Canadian Beef Imports?

25 January 2010

TAIWAN - Taiwan would have to handle any negotiations with Canada on lifting a ban on Canadian beef imports carefully, as the controversy over US beef is still raging.

Canada would welcome a reopening of the Taiwan market to Canadian beef, but because of the political storm over US beef imports, Canada is probably hesitant to discuss the issue right now, Harry Tseng, head of the North American affairs bureau under the "Ministry of Foreign Affairs", told China Daily.

Canada has not brought up the beef issue recently, Mr Tseng said in response to a question from the media, adding that on the basis of the recent amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation, Taiwan would love to sit down with Canada to talk about the issue.

However, a risk assessment would have to be carried out before any such negotiations, he said. The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei declined to comment on the issue.

In comparison with the US beef trade issue, Mr Tseng said, the reopening of the Taiwan market to Canadian beef imports would be a "simpler issue" because the bilateral discussions would involve only bone-in beef. Ground beef and offal - beef parts that are considered at risk of spreading bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease - would not be included, he added.

Taiwan reopened its market to Canadian boneless beef in June 2007, almost four years after it imposed a ban when the first case of mad cow disease was reported in Canada.

Currently import of Canadian boneless beef from cattle aged under 30 months is allowed in Taiwan.

According to the Australian Trade Commission, Australia holds the biggest market share of 46 per cent in Taiwan for beef and beef products, while New Zealand ranks second with 27 per cent, the US third with 17 per cent, and Canada fourth with two per cent.

The Canadian beef import issue is separate from Taiwan's request for visa-free entry of its passport holders to Canada, Mr Tseng said, adding that the negotiations will be parallel.

David Lee, Taiwan's representative to Canada, "has been working tirelessly on the visa-waiver program, which is now in the final phase of discussion," Mr Tseng said.

"Hopefully there will be some good news soon," he said.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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