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Cablegate: Media Reaction: U.S. Beef Imports

VZCZCXYZ0008
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHIN #1532/01 3640900
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 300900Z DEC 09
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3019
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 9588
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0975

UNCLAS AIT TAIPEI 001532

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EAP/TC, EAP/P, EAP/PD - THOMAS HAMM
DEPARTMENT PASS AIT/WASHINGTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO TW
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: U.S. BEEF IMPORTS

Summary: Taiwan's major Chinese-language dailies focused December
30 news coverage on the ruling KMT and opposition DPP caucuses'
consensus on amending the Act Governing the Food Sanitation which
bans the import of "risky" U.S. beef products; on the scandal of
three local doctors colluding with patients in defrauding US$2.5
million from insurance companies; and on China and ASEAN's free
trade agreement, which will be launched on January 1, 2010. Among
editorials and commentaries, an op-ed in the pro-unification "United
Daily News" said the opposition forces in Taiwan regarding the
import of U.S. beef products should base their opposition on
long-term strategic objectives, rather than deviating from
international political and economic reality. An op-ed in the
KMT-leaning "China Times" suggested that the United States and
Taiwan should resolve the beef controversy in Taiwan under the
framework of the U.S.-Taiwan Trade and Investment Framework
Agreement (TIFA) negotiations to reach a win-win outcome. End
summary.

A) "Opposing the U.S. Beef; Can [Taiwan] Oppose the U.S.'s
Position?"

Tang Hsin-wei, an assistant professor of the Department of Political
Science at Fo Guang University, opined in the pro-unification
"United Daily News" [circulation: 400,000] (12/30):

"... Taiwan, in order to expedite its economic growth, must expand
international trade. The United States, the biggest economic entity
in the world, with a 2006 GDP that was twenty percent of the entire
world's, is a major market that every country tries hard to enter.
In order to strengthen Taiwan's export competitiveness, [Taiwan]
must negotiate with Washington. Opening [Taiwan's market] to U.S.
beef should be regarded as a link to [Taiwan's] overall strategy.
To Taiwan, the U.S. market is indispensable. However, to the United
States, there are a lot of trading partners which can replace
Taiwan. Under the circumstance of a critical imbalance, if [Taiwan]
demands that Washington fully accommodate Taiwan, it is obvious that
[Taiwan] is deviating from international political and economic
reality. ..."

B) "[Using] TIFA to Resolve the Beef Controversy"

Tsai Horng-ming, an associate professor at the Graduate Institute of
International Affairs and Global Strategy at the National Taiwan
Normal University and also a former advisor to the National Security
Council, opined in the KMT-leaning "China Times" [circulation:
120,000] (12/30):

"The Legislative Yuan is amending the 'Act Governing Food
Sanitation,' banning the import of highly risky parts of ground beef
and beef offal and having an impact on the progress of the Trade and
Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks between Taiwan and the
United States. It remains to be seen whether the negotiations at
the deputy ministers' level will resume. Taiwan and the United
States should consider whether to make the U.S. beef controversy
become a topic negotiated under the TIFA in order to find a strategy
which yields a win-win scenario. ...

"In fact, both Taiwan and the United States are members of the World
Trade Organization (WTO) so they should resolve the beef controversy
according to WTO regulations. If ground beef and beef offal were
'denied entry to Taiwan' based on the Legislative Yuan's amendments
to the 'Act Governing Food Sanitation,' the United States beef
industry as a result would report this to the Office of the United
States Trade Representative (USTR) regarding 'trade obstacles'
caused by Taiwan to the export of U.S. beef into Taiwan, Taiwan and
the United States must conduct bilateral negotiations and ask the
WTO Secretary-General to mediate the case, and establish a dispute
settlement panel to review the case as well as an appeal procedure
so as to resolve the trade dispute. If the WTO dispute settlement
panel rules that Taiwan has violated the WTO Agreement on the
Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, then the United
States can conduct trade retaliation against Taiwan.

"Regarding the opening of bilateral negotiations, TIFA must be used
effectively. As the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham)
mentioned in its '2009 Taiwan White Paper,' [the trade volume of]
beef is only a small part of the total trade volume between the
United States and Taiwan; however, this single issue has obstructed
many other issues about which American enterprises are concerned,
and it [AmCham] hopes both [Taiwan and the United States] find a
solution. In particular, with improved cross-Strait relations,
[Taiwan and China] are going to sign a 'cross-Strait Economic
Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).' The signing of the ECFA
will help industries on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, including
information and electronics, retail, telecommunication, finance,
energy, and environmental protection to cooperate, the circumstances
of which will definitely have an impact on American businesses'
interests in the Taiwan market. This will be the price that the
United States will have to pay by delaying the U.S.-Taiwan TIFA
talks because of Taiwan's policy of 'denying [risky U.S. beef parts]
from entering Taiwan.' This is one aspect that the United States
must take into consideration.

"Therefore, for both Taiwan and the United States, the best strategy
is to resume the TIFA talks as originally scheduled at the beginning
of next year. In addition to continuously pressing [Taiwan] on
issues, including rice and the pharmaceutical pricing system under
the National Health Insurance, and promoting other issues that
benefit American businesses in Taiwan, the [United States] should
further 'review' Taiwan's [policy] of importing U.S. beef products
and administrative measures under the framework of TIFA, and further
negotiate [with Taiwan] regarding improvements [to the
circumstances] and 'strategies to resolve the issue cooperatively.'
..."

MADISON

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