Taiwan to ease restrictions on US pork imports

Taiwan's parliament has approved measures to ease restrictions on imports of US pork.

The administrative directives passed on Thursday with majority support from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

The government will allow US pork imports from January 1 if they are found to contain a leanness-enhancing additive in amounts below a new safety standard. The government currently bans US pork imports from pigs fed the additive.

President Tsai Ing-wen is seeking people's understanding of the move, underscoring its importance in her bid to conclude a trade deal with the United States.

But opinion polls show that more than 60 percent of respondents are against easing the restrictions.

The opposition Nationalist Party and consumer groups staged a massive rally last month to protest the relaxation. They said the move would threaten food safety.

The Nationalist Party is calling for a referendum to be held on the issue in August next year.

Public sentiment on US pork imports may affect the government's stance regarding import restrictions on some Japanese foods. Those measures have been in effect since the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.