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U.S.-China Agricultural Trade

A combine drives through a field of soft red winter wheat during the harvest on a farm in Dixon, Illinois, July 16, 2013.

The 24th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, which wrapped up December 20 in Beijing, made progress on a number of trade issues.

The 24th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), which wrapped up December 20 in Beijing, made progress on a number of trade issues, according to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

U.S.-China Agricultural Trade
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The JCCT is the highest level bilateral forum for the resolution of trade and investment issues and the promotion of commercial opportunities between the United States and China. U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman co-chaired the forum with China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang.

“My discussions with Premier Li Keqiang and other Chinese leaders laid the groundwork for future cooperation related to our shared interests in food security, food safety, and sustainability, as well as the expansion of export opportunities for American farmers and ranchers,” Secretary Vilsack said in a news release issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) December 23.

At the JCCT, representatives discussed a number of high-priority issues for agriculture, including market access for beef and horticultural products, the approval process for biotechnology products and import suspensions for four U.S. states related to concerns over avian influenza, the USDA said.

On beef access, the United States and China agreed to continue discussions aimed at restoring market access by the middle of 2014. Regarding horticulture, Secretary Vilsack re-affirmed a pathway for reopening China’s market for Washington apples and California citrus.
Secretary Vilsack also urged China to streamline its biotechnology approval process, and committed to begin implementing a pilot program on review of biotechnology products, according to the USDA.

China agreed to discuss U.S. concerns regarding China’s requirement for the use of viable seed in applications for biotechnology approvals.
On avian influenza, the Agriculture Secretary also raised the issue of lifting bans on poultry due to avian influenza, and China responded that it was analyzing information provided by the USDA.

In separate discussions with Agriculture Minister Han Changfu, Secretary Vilsack shared a proposal for a revised memorandum of understanding focused on expanding the scope of science and technology cooperation in the field of agriculture.

The two countries committed to hold a second high-level agricultural symposium in 2014, with support from the U.S.-China Agriculture and Food Partnership. The recently formed partnership hosted a reception in honor of Secretary Vilsack’s visit. Attendees included a broad range of U.S. and Chinese agribusiness leaders and high-level Chinese government officials.

Agricultural trade between the United States and China is a good bargain for consumers and producers in both countries, in the Asia region, and the world.