July 25, 2012 / 9:18 AM / 5 years ago

Taiwan moves to end trade spat over U.S. beef

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan’s parliament passed a measure easing restrictions on imports of U.S. beef on Wednesday, ending a months-long stand off with its third-largest trading partner and clearing the way for a resumption of stalled trade talks.

The measure amends food safety laws to allow the import of beef containing a leanness-enhancing additive, ractopamine, which is currently banned in Taiwan.

The U.S. says the additive is safe, and has linked Taiwan’s acceptance of treated beef to a resumption Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks that have been suspended since 2007 largely due to successive disputes over beef imports.

The TIFA, a bilateral framework for talks on trade and investment between the U.S. and Taiwan, is seen by many in Taiwan as a precursor to a full free-trade agreement.

Pursuing such agreements is a key plank in the government’s strategy to develop trade links to offset dependence on political rival China and stay competitive with other regional economies.

Taiwan banned imports of U.S. beef containing ractopamine in 2011. A proposal in March this year to partially lift the ban triggered a public protest by farmers and food safety activists during which government buildings were pelted with eggs and manure.

Reporting by Jonathan Standing; Editing by Ed Lane

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