Taipei, July 19 (CNA) Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Bao-ji has solicited investment in the value-added agriculture industry in Taiwan's planned free economic pilot zones (FEPZs) and has aggressively promoted a future U.S.-Taiwan bilateral investment agreement (BIA) during a July 13-19 visit to the United States, a COA spokesman said Saturday. During Chen's visit, he talked with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on topics related to strengthening agricultural and trade relations and agricultural cooperation between the two countries, according to the spokesman. The two sides agreed during the meeting to strengthen cooperation in the development of agricultural technology and the promotion of the agricultural sector and trade in agricultural products, the spokesman added. Chen also met senators from five U.S. agriculture-heavy states and eight members of the House of Representatives, including Frank Lucas, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, and Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He also exchanged views with U.S. agricultural experts on issues such as Taiwan-U.S. cooperation in improving food safety, developing techniques and strengthening personnel training in the agriculture and aquaculture sectors. Chen also introduced Taiwan's policy in developing the value-added agricultural industry in the FEPZs, with the aim of attracting U.S.
companies to invest in the industry in the zones before jointly venturing into the Southeast Asian and Chinese markets, the spokesman added. In addition, the minister aggressively promoted a future U.S.-Taiwan BIA, saying that it will help increase mutual bilateral investment. In response to U.S. concerns about Taiwan's ban on beef offal and pork containing ractopamine, Chen said Taiwan will insist on barring imports of U.S. pork containing the leanness-enhancing drug, although it eased restrictions on U.S. beef containing ractopamine residue in 2012, according to the spokesman. (By Wu Ching-chun and Evelyn Kao)