Taiwan threatens to take Beijing to WTO over grouper ban

Taiwan threatens to take Beijing to WTO over grouper ban

TAIPEI: Taiwan's government threatened to take Beijing to the World Trade Organization on Saturday after China suspended the import of grouper fish from the island, saying it had detected banned chemicals, the latest agricultural spat between the two.

A year ago, China suspended imports of pineapples, sugar apples and wax apples from Taiwan, citing concerns about pests, which Taiwan strongly denied.

Relations between Taipei and Beijing, which claims to be Taiwan as its own territory, are at their lowest level in decades, with China increasing political and military pressure to get the island to accept its sovereignty.

China's customs administration said late Friday it had detected banned chemicals in grouper from Taiwan and would suspend their import from Monday in order to protect the health and welfare of consumers. However, the Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung said there was nothing wrong with the fish and they would provide data to China and request a response from them.

If China doesn't respond, Taiwan won't rule out taking the issue to the WTO, he told reporters.

Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng said that China has been boycotting and blocking Taiwanese agricultural and aquatic products in a manner inconsistent with international practices. This not only hurts relations between Taiwan and China, but also makes the Taiwanese people disgusted by Chinese Communist Party authorities' wanton suppression of Taiwan. China accounts for about 90 per cent of the exported product.