Taiwan’s president Wednesday pushed for a reopening of trade talks with Washington saying the island needed a free trade agreement similar to that of South Korea’s with the United States. President Ma Ying-jeou said Taiwan was in danger of losing out to Seoul financially if an agreement was not reached soon. “After the free trade agreement between South Korea and the United States took effect, Taiwan’s exports to the US may fall by up to $3 billion,” Ma warned. “Also foreign investors may prefer to invest in South Korea and subsequently Taiwan may be marginalised,” he said in a statement released by the party. A free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea took effect last week, sparking concerns in the trade-reliant island that the pact would pit Taiwanese companies unfavourably against their South Korean counterparts on the US market. Negotiations between the United States and Taiwan on a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, often a precursor to a full-fledged FTA, have been dormant since 2007, over a dispute over imports of US beef. At the centre of the dispute has been Taiwan’s ban on US beef treated with ractopamine, a controversial additive used in animal feed to promote lean meat. In order to facilitate the talks, Ma’s administration had said it plans to lift the ban, sparking severe protests from activists and the major opposition Democratic Progressive Party. But in Wednesday’s remarks, Ma dismissed the safety concerns. “As of now, there is not any scientific evidence in the world that indicates ractopamine, if a limited amount taken in, would endanger health,” he said. Taiwan, China and the European Union ban such drugs because of possible human health risks, but 26 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and Brazil, have declared the product safe.