China and the United States look forward to further improve the strong agricultural trade ties in the interests of the international community, said US Secretary of Agriculture Edward Schafer.
"Agriculture trading continues to be strong," Schafer said over the weekend in Shanghai after attending the fifth Strategic Economic Dialogue in Beijing. "It is one of the strongest businesses that we have in the relationship between China and the United States."
China replaced Japan to be the third largest export market and biggest import market for US agricultural trade in 2007. Farm trade between the two countries totaled nearly US$20 billion last year.
"As two of the world's largest agriculture nations, we feel responsibility to develop the trade relationship." he added. "As we develop stronger relations, we start to remove the barriers and we see the free flow of goods and services between our two countries."
Schafer said that so far the trade in agriculture products between the two nations has not been impacted by recent fluctuations in the yuan exchange rate.
Schafer was in Shanghai at the weekend to attend FHC 2008, a food and hospitality event, after the SED concluded in Beijing with 40 agreements in areas ranging from finance and trade to energy and the environment. Both nations are committed to enhance the partnership to tackle the global financial turmoil and boost bilateral trade.
Although no agricultural deals were concluded, Schafer said that cooperation between the two nations was vital.
"China and the United States are two of the world's largest agriculture economies, and more and more economies are demanding a growing share of agriculture products," said Schafer. "These nations will look to China and the United States to not only provide a diverse selection of health food but also look to us for guidance on issues such as ensuring the safety of food and adhering to international standards, and operating by regulatory regimes that pave the way, instead of being a barrier to trade."
Schafer said the US is working very closely with China's food authority to help improve its food safety system.
When asked about the World Trade Organization's Doha Round, which has been stalled since July on differences over measures to shield farmers from surging imports, Schafer said he sees an agreement by the end of this year.
(Shanghai Daily December 8, 2008)