Taiwan's new restriction on crab imports unwelcome

Updated: 2007-09-27 10:25

BEIJING - The crab trade across the Taiwan Strait has slowed in what should be its peak season due to picky quarantine standards put forward by the Taiwan authorities, said a Chinese mainland official here Wednesday.

"We hope the related non-governmental organizations from both sides will carry on negotiations so that Taiwan people can enjoy this delicacy at the right time," said Li Weiyi, spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

Fresh crabs, especially those bred in East China's Jiangsu Province, have become a traditional and popular mid-autumn dish and have sold well in Taiwan.

The two sides had reached an agreement on quarantine standards of crabs in July, but in August the Taiwan authorities submitted new standards requiring residues of all drugs to be undetectable, which was too picky and impractical, Li said.

The mainland had exported quality and safe food, he said, adding that 99 percent of food exported to Japan and the European Union met their standards.

"We do expect the two sides to show sincerity and settle this problem for the benefit of consumers," he said. "We have noticed that a certain group in Taiwan is trying to discredit mainland foods. Such politically driven action will greatly harm normal trade across the Strait."

In the first eight months of this year, the mainland has found 27 consignments of unqualified food imported from Taiwan. "We handled them according to regulations, but did not exaggerate the situation," Li said.

He said the mainland would continue encouraging imports of produce from Taiwan.

A 30-member purchasing group from the mainland visited Taiwan this month and signed an initial agreement to buy 2,000 tons of local fruits.

"We will support more farm produce importers and trade organizations in visiting Taiwan," Li said.

Meanwhile, he urged the Taiwan authorities to speed up the talks on opening Taiwan to mainland tourists.

Tourism organizations from the two sides had held six rounds of talks on technical issues.

"The two sides have developed common understanding, but a number of problems remained unresolved," Li said.

After the fifth round of talks, the mainland put forward a set of practical solutions, but the Taiwan authorities had made no response for months, he said.

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