Nations hoping to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have begun preparations to ensure acceptance when the Asia-Pacific regional trade deal opens to new member states. The TPP, negotiations on which were initiated in late 2008 and concluded last October, includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, which account for nearly 40% of global GDP. The countries combined have more than 800 million consumers. Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak stressed the need for his country to improve its competitiveness as part of preparations for joining the TPP.
“With more than a year left before the TPP is open to new members, Thailand will take this opportunity to conduct a public hearing to voice opinion from all sectors involved before signing the agreement,” he said.
Taiwan’s new president, Tsai Ing-wen, previously indicated she wants the island nation to join the TPP and that the country must resolve issues related to imports of U.S. pork products, including its ban on ractopamine. Agriculture Minister Tsao Chi-hung said the United States and Taiwan have yet to hold talks related to U.S. pork. In April, Chi-hung’s remarks on allowing imports of U.S. pork from hogs fed ractopamine triggered a protest from Taiwanese pork producers.
The National Pork Producers Council has been pressing the Obama administration to urge Taiwan to lift the ractopamine ban, which is not based on science. Ractopamine, which is widely used as part of a healthy, balanced diet to help pigs convert dietary nutrients into lean muscle, was determined to be safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is approved for use in pork production in 26 countries, with 75 additional nations allowing the importation of pork from hogs fed ractopamine. In July 2012, the U.N.’s Codex Alimentarius Commission, which sets international standards for food safety, approved a maximum residue limit for ractopamine, which U.S. pork meets. Along with Thailand and Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Honduras and Colombia have expressed an interest in joining the TPP.