Taiwan agrees to fully open to Canadian beef imports ahead of trade deal

TAIPEI, June 15 (Reuters) – Taiwan’s government on Thursday agreed to fully open its market to imports of Canadian beef, lifting a stumbling block as Taipei angles to sign a bilateral investment agreement with Ottawa this year.

Taiwan had previously banned imports of Canadian beef slaughtered more than 30 months earlier due to concerns about bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease.

Taiwan’s Cabinet said in a statement following a weekly meeting that it had approved the full opening of beef imports from Canada, though the island’s food and drug administration said six items of offal including brains and eyes would still be banned on safety fears.

Taiwan lifted a similar 30-month-aged ban on U.S beef in 2021. The island produces little beef itself and most relies on imports from the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Canada’s government said it May that its beef exporters would soon have full access to the Taiwanese market, after their top trade officials met at an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting.

Taiwan has been in talks with Canada for a deal to encourage two-way investment called the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Arrangement.

Taiwan’s top trade negotiator John Deng said this month that he expected the deal to be signed this year.

Taiwanese media has previously reported the beef issue had been a stumbling block in those talks.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jamie Freed.