Late last month, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack provided an upbeat report on trade issue progress that will benefit American agriculture.
Just before Christmas, the 24th U.S. China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade wound up talks in Beijing, the Chinese capital. The JCCT is a bilateral forum that seeks to resolve trade and investment issues between the U.S. and China. U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman co-chaired the JCCT with Wang Yang, China's vice premier.
"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," Vilsack said, in a statement released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Dec. 23.
Crucial agricultural concerns were an important part of the JCCT's agenda at the December session. Here is a summary provided by the USDA of the issues Vilsack raised and what was accomplished last month:
On beef access, the United States and China reached consensus to continue dialogue, with the intention to restore market access by the middle of 2014.
On horticulture, the secretary re-affirmed a pathway for re-opening China's market for Washington apples and California citrus.
On biotechnology, the secretary conveyed a need to streamline China's biotech approval process, and gave his commitment to begin implementation of a pilot program on the review of biotechnology products. China also 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 secretary raised lifting bans on poultry due to avian influenza. China responded that its officials were analyzing information provided by the USDA.
More discussions with Chinese agriculture leaders are planned for the months ahead. These include exploring possible collaboration between China and the United States on advancing science and technology applications in the field of agriculture.
The USDA's efforts to promote dialogue between China and the United States regarding agriculture potentially have huge ramifications for the Hawkeye State.
China is rapidly becoming one of Iowa's most significant markets. In the last year, the Hawkeye State has exported in excess of $751 billion in assorted products to this giant, booming economy.
China imports more Iowa soybeans than all other countries combined. It also purchases other agricultural and manufactured goods produced here. Nearly one out of every five people who inhabit this planet lives in China. Its importance as a market for Iowa products both now and far into the future is obvious.
Consequently, The Messenger commends Vilsack and his team at the USDA for working hard to keep the communication channels about trade between China and the United States open and productive. The trade partnership that is being built will benefit both nations. Iowa can play a crucial role in that relationship. Our state's prosperity will be enhanced if these trade ties continue to flourish.