TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan may take China to the World Trade Organization after the country effectively banned the import of more Taiwanese food and drink products, Premier Su Tseng-chang said on Saturday as Beijing accused Taipei of “political manipulation”.
Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has complained for the past two years of Chinese import bans on various agricultural and aquatic goods, including pineapples and grouper fish, saying it is part of a Chinese pressure campaign.
The latest bans cover more fishery products, chief among them squid, as well as some beers and liquors, which China has said is due to the Taiwanese companies not properly completing relevant paperwork.
Speaking to reporters, Su said China was using administrative means to “interfere” in normal trade which is not in line with WTO norms.
The government will do its best to communicate with relevant Chinese departments on the issue, he added.
“If there is any non-compliance with the relevant WTO norms, we will also follow the relevant channels to file a complaint.”
Taiwan and China are both WTO members.
In a statement late on Friday, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said the problem was an administrative one in that the affected companies were not properly registered and this was a “normal food safety supervision measure”.
It said it hoped that Taiwanese companies will provide the information that meets government requirements as soon as possible.
“At the same time, we are telling the relevant departments on the island to immediately stop any political manipulation and not to do anything stupid that harms companies on the island.”
Agriculture is not a major part of Taiwan’s semiconductor-oriented economy but the farming and fishing community is largely based in parts of the island that traditionally support the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, especially in southern Taiwan.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Himani Sarkar)