In a letter sent today to Obama administration trade officials, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) expressed strong objection to re-opening the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) negotiations with Taiwan because of that country’s continued failure to lift a ban on a widely approved dietary additive used in pork production.
The Taiwanese parliament recently voted to ease restrictions on U.S. beef imports from cattle produced with ractopamine – but left the ban in place on pork produced with the same product.
Ractopamine is a dietary additive that improves the feed efficiency, growth rate and lean carcass percentage of live hogs and cattle. It has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and by the food safety agencies in 24 countries. Earlier this month, the U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius, which sets international standards for food products, approved a maximum residue limit (MRL) for ractopamine, which U.S. pork meets.
“Failing to lift the ractopamine ban for pork was not an inadvertent omission,” says NPPC President R.C. Hunt, a pork producer from Wilson, NC. “It is nothing more than a ploy by the Taiwanese government to bring the United States back to the TIFA negotiating table.
“In Taiwan, pork production is much more important than beef, and pork producers have much more political clout,” Hunt adds. “This, and only this, explains the decision to lift the ractopamine ban on beef but not on pork.”
NPPC asked U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to make clear to Taiwan that lifting the ractopamine ban for beef only will not prompt the United States to re-open TIFA talks with Taiwan. TIFA provides a framework for expanding trade and resolving trade disputes between countries.
The pork organization also urged the U.S. officials to “up the ante” on Taiwan by indicating that the United States will not support the Asian nation’s entry into negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a regional trade pact, until it drops its ractopamine ban on pork imports.
“We believe it is time for the United States to explore all potential means, including legal tools, of getting the Taiwanese to open their market,” Hunt says.
If Taiwan were to lift the ractopamine ban on pork imports, U.S. pork exports to that country would increase to $417 million within 10 years, according to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes. Just $53.8 million of U.S. pork was shipped to Taiwan in 2011.