Agri­cul­ture, trade po­ten­tial is ‘huge’

Vice-Premier Wang Yang vis­its top of­fi­cials in DC

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN WEI­HUA in Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Se­nior Chi­nese and US of­fi­cials ap­plauded the huge suc­cess and po­ten­tial in bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion in agri­cul­ture, trade and in­vest­ment.

In a China-US agri­cul­ture and food sem­i­nar on Tues­day morn­ing, Vice-Premier Wang Yang said that the po­ten­tial for agri­cul­ture co­op­er­a­tion is huge be­tween China, the world’s largest agri­cul­ture pro­ducer, con­sumer and im­porter, and the United States, the world’s top agri­cul­ture gi­ant and the largest agri­cul­ture ex­porter.

“The two sides are nat­u­ral part­ners for agri­cul­ture co­op­er­a­tion and the po­ten­tial is enor­mous,” said Wang.

US Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Michael Fro­man, US Agri­cul­ture Sec­re­tary Tom Vil­sack and some 200 govern­ment and cor­po­rate rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the food and drug sec­tors at­tended the talk, ti­tled Ad­vanc­ing Mu­tual Goals in Food Safety.

Wang was lead­ing a Chi­nese del­e­ga­tion in Wash­ing­ton to at­tend the 27th ses­sion of the China-US Joint Com­mis­sion on Com­merce and Trade (JCCT).

Wang noted that agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tion is one of the ear­li­est and the most fruit­ful ar­eas of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries and also one of the ar­eas with the greatest po­ten­tial. Agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tion has reaped rich fruits in trade and in­vest­ment, tech­ni­cal ex­change and hu­man re­sources, mak­ing vi­tal con­tri­bu­tion to the China-US re­la­tions, he said.

In the last 15 years since China joined the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WTO), agri­cul­tural trade be­tween the two coun­tries has grown at an av­er­age an­nual rate of 17 per­cent to reach $32.1 bil­lion.

He said China has been push­ing for­ward sup­ply-side re­form to mod­ern­ize its agri­cul­ture de­vel­op­ment and meet the grow­ing needs of its peo­ple.

Ac­cord­ing to the vice-premier, agri­cul­ture is one of the ar­eas in China with the fastest-grow­ing in­vest­ment. “China and the US can strengthen their co­op­er­a­tion in agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy, man­age­ment, in­ter­net and farm­ing and ex­plor­ing the third coun­try mar­ket,” he said.

He said China wel­comes more US agri­cul­ture busi­nesses to in­vest in China, as well as more high-qual­ity and safe US agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and foods into the Chi­nese mar­ket. He also hoped that the US side will create a good en­vi­ron­ment for the ex­ports of Chi­nese poul­try, aquatic prod­ucts and other farm prod­ucts into the US mar­ket.

Wang said the two coun­tries are bound to have dif­fer­ences in agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tion due to their re­spec­tive na­tional and agri­cul­tural con­di­tions.

He said the two sides should show more mu­tual un­der­stand­ing, mu­tual re­spect and mu­tual tol­er­ance, deepen their agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy co­op­er­a­tion, pro­mote agri­cul­tural in­vest­ment, ex­pand agri­cul­tural trade, in­no­vate in ways of agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tion and de­velop con­verg­ing in­ter­ests to ex­pand the agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tion.

Fro­man de­scribed the growth in food and agri­cul­ture trade be­tween the two na­tions as “im­pres­sive”. From 2000 to 2015, US agri­cul­ture ex­ports to China in­creased 11-fold, and China’s agri­cul­ture ex­ports to the US grew seven-fold.

“China has been one of our top ex­port mar­kets for our food and agri­cul­ture ex­ports for some time,” he said.

“The one thing we know is that where there is an emerg­ing mid­dle class, there is in­creased de­mand for more pro­tein, bet­ter nu­tri­tion and safe food — and all of that spells more US agri­cul­ture ex­ports to China,” Fro­man said.

“I want to ap­plaud China for mak­ing food safety a pol­icy pri­or­ity,” said Vil­sack, prais­ing the fo­rum for dis­cussing the two coun­tries’ com­ple­men­tary roles in en­sur­ing food safety.

On Tues­day, Wang, Fro­man and US Com­merce Sec­re­tary Penny Pritzker at­tended a sem­i­nar on dig­i­tal econ­omy and a busi­ness round­table with govern­ment, busi­ness and aca­demic rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

At a lun­cheon hosted by the China Gen­eral Cham­ber of Com­merce (USA), Wang painted a rosy pic­ture for bi­lat­eral trade and in­vest­ment, cit­ing the fore­cast for China in the next five years: $8 tril­lion in im­ports, $600 bil­lion in in­bound for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment (FDI), $750 bil­lion in out­bound FDI and 700 mil­lion trips over­seas by Chi­nese tourists.

“This will pro­vide huge op­por­tu­ni­ties for busi­nesses in var­i­ous coun­tries, in­clud­ing the US,” he said.

Wang cited China’s de­ci­sion to ne­go­ti­ate a Bi­lat­eral In­vest­ment Treaty (BIT) with the US based on a neg­a­tive list and an in­creas­ingly short­ened neg­a­tive list as proof of China’s will­ing­ness to open up fur­ther.

He also cited sta­tis­tics re­gard­ing the crack­down on the vi­o­la­tions of in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights as proof that the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment has im­proved with more norms and rules.

Wang told the au­di­ence that China has also taken in the views of var­i­ous sides, in­clud­ing US com­pa­nies and in­sti­tu­tions, in for­mu­lat­ing its laws such as in cy­ber se­cu­rity, for­eign NGO man­age­ment and in­no­va­tion poli­cies.

The orig­i­nal draft of the for­eign NGO law re­stricts the num­ber of their rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice in China to one, but it was lifted af­ter con­sid­er­ing the views of other sides, in­clud­ing the US side, ac­cord­ing to Wang. “Facts have proven that China’s poli­cies and laws have be­come more trans­par­ent, and the busi­ness cli­mate has be­come friend­lier,” he said.

Wang said China is will­ing to work with the US side to achieve more prac­ti­cal co­op­er­a­tion at the JCCT to en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion of China-US eco­nomic and trade re­la­tions at a time when the US is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a govern­ment tran­si­tion.

“(It is) also to lay a solid foun­da­tion for the next phase of China-US eco­nomic and trade re­la­tions,” he said.

Wang Yang, vice-premier

LI GE / CHINA DAILY

Xu Chen, pres­i­dent and CEO of Bank of China USA and chair­man of China Gen­eral Cham­ber of Com­merce-USA, makes a speech at a lucheon hosted by CGCC in Wash­ing­ton on Tues­day. Vice-Premier Wang Yang (sec­ond from right, at table) and for­mer New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg at­tend the lun­cheon.

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