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Taiwanese Protest U.S. Pork Demands

February 11, 1998

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ Angry farmers dumped hog manure and pelted the U.S. office in Taiwan with raw eggs Wednesday to protest U.S. demands for lower tariffs on pork imports.

More than 1,000 farmers and their supporters joined the protest in the capital, Taipei. Demonstrators delivered a petition to the American Institute that decried U.S. demands that tariffs be dropped from 60 percent to 15 percent.

Officials at the institute _ which handles U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties _ accepted the petition, but refused to meet with demonstrators.

``Lowering tariffs would collapse the pork producing sector and cost thousands of jobs,″ said Fang Ching-chuan, secretary-general of the Swine Industry Development Association.

The protest came as Taiwan sought U.S. backing in Washington this week for its bid to join the World Trade Organization. United States negotiators are seeking a more open market for pork products.

Taiwan in past years raised more than 10 million hogs annually, and the industry accounted for 700,000 jobs. But Japan banned Taiwanese pork imports after an outbreak of foot and mouth disease forced mass slaughter of herds last year, and wholesale prices have fallen by half.

``Pig farmers are already almost bankrupt because of the disease. Too much pressure in a short time will be big trouble,″ said feed salesman Fan Wen-hao.

In a gesture of support for the pig industry, Taiwanese grain dealers last week boycotted U.S. grain, switching contracts for the purchase of 400,000 tons of U.S. feed and grain to Argentina and Brazil.

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