Agriculture, trade potential is ‘huge’
Vice-Premier Wang Yang visits top officials in DC
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
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.