U.S. government and industry officials are applauding Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen’s Friday announcement that the country will be lifting restrictions that limit imports of U.S. beef and pork.

Both the Taiwanese and U.S. government described the announcement as leading to greater economic ties between the two countries.

“We look forward to the timely implementation of these actions, which will provide greater access for U.S. farmers to one of East Asia’s most vibrant markets, and for Taiwan consumers to high-quality U.S. agricultural products,” the State Department said Friday. “President Tsai’s vision and leadership in removing these long-standing barriers open the door to greater economic and trade cooperation between the United States and Taiwan.”

The U.S. is already a key supplier of beef to Taiwan, but the country limits U.S. imports to product from cattle under 30 months old at slaughter. Taiwan agreed to international standards for ractopamine residues in beef nearly a decade ago, but not for pork, which has sharply restricted trade.

Although the U.S. government was not specific about the restrictions being eased, the Wall Street Journal reported that Tsai said at a news briefing Friday "she had instructed her government to ease regulations to allow imports of American pork containing trace amounts of [ractopamine], as well as U.S. beef products from cattle age 30 months and older."

The National Pork Producers Council said in a statement that it “has worked for approximately 15 years to eliminate Taiwan’s non-tariff barriers to U.S. pork exports. NPPC appreciates that Taiwan is indicating it will soon lift all non-tariff barriers to US pork.” 

The pork group stressed it appreciates the long-standing efforts by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative “to tear down barriers to U.S. pork exports all over the world. Indeed, Taiwan’s ban on U.S. pork produced with ractopamine has been at the top of USTR’s list of concerns raised with Taiwan for years.”

“It’s certainly a positive development,” says Bill Westman, senior vice president of international affairs for the North American Meat Institute. “It’s encouraging that they want to have their standards based on international norms.”

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The U.S. exported about $568 million worth of beef to Taiwan last year, up from $550 million in 2018, according to USDA data. Meanwhile, Taiwan imported just $30.3 million worth of pork in 2019 and $28.5 million in 2018.

“We welcome Taiwan’s announcement to lift import restrictions on U.S. beef and pork. These barriers to trade have been a long-standing concern for U.S. exporters, and their removal is an important step,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said in a statement. “With a population under 24 million, Taiwan is the 10th largest U.S. trading partner. The lifting of these restrictions will provide U.S. farmers and ranchers much-needed opportunities and is a victory for supporters of trade liberalization in both economies.”

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