The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), last week educated Congress on Taiwan’s effective ban on meat containing ractopamine, a prohibition that has hampered U.S. pork exports to that nation for the past four years.
Like China, Taiwan refuses to accept pork processed from pigs that consumed ractopamine in the finishing process. Use of ractopamine has been approved by FDA and is accepted in 26 countries. No scientific evidence supports Taiwan's policy.
In 2007, the Taiwanese government notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it would establish a maximum residue level (MRL) for ractopamine in pork, based on the MRL proposed by the Codex Alimentarius, the international food-safety body. However, after protests from Taiwanese pork producers, Taiwan withdrew its decision.
Taiwan is nearly self sufficient in pork production. Taiwan’s domestic herd however, supplies only 80 percent of pork offal consumption leaving certain variety meats in high demand.
In 2009, Canada overtook the United States as the largest source of Taiwanese pork imports. Canada‟s gains can be partially attributed to the additional pork variety meats supplied by Canada, which more closely meet specifications required by Taiwan. Like China, pork is the most widely consumed meat in Taiwan.
By upholding the ban, Taiwan is in violation of its WTO obligations, according to NPPC. Over the past four years, the United States has offered resolutions that have failed to move forward because of the strong protectionist sentiment expressed by the Taiwanese government.
U.S. pork exports to Taiwan dropped by around 30 percent in 2011 from 2010 levels. According to economic analysis by Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, lifting the ractopamine ban would increase U.S. pork exports by around $240 million.
Taiwan’s 2012 presidential and legislative elections concluded in January with President Ma winning re-election. The new Cabinet has wasted no time in dealing with the ractopamine issue. Taiwan's refusal is also now having an impact on U.S. beef exports. Last week, the Cabinet was sworn in and formed a task force to address U.S. beef containing ractopamine.
Given the conclusion of Taiwan’s elections, NPPC is pressing Taiwan to establish an MRL for ractopamine. In a letter to Congress, NPPC urged lawmakers to support the administration in bringing this long-standing issue to a resolution.