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China Opens Agricultural Market

Experts from China's Think Tank say China has become the most open agricultural market among the developing countries in the world. With more and more foreign produce flooding into China, the country will run an agricultural trade deficit of nearly 5 billion US dollars this year.


As the third anniversary of China's entry into the WTO approaches, a senior professor with the Development Research Center of the State Council, says China will have fulfilled its commitment to the WTO on agricultural trade by the end of this year.


Cheng Guoqiang says China boasts the most open produce markets of any developing country.


"China has lowered duties and removed non-tariff barriers for imported agricultural products and abided by the commitment made to the WTO. Now we have the lowest produce tariffs in developing countries. Even compared with developed countries, our agricultural tariff is very low."


He says China's tariffs for agricultural imports have been lowered from 19.4 percent three years ago to the current 15.6 percent; 50 percentage points lower than the international average.


With the decrease in tariffs has come an increasing demand for high-quality agricultural products from foreign countries.


China has seen a rapid growth of agricultural imports, especially in soybean, cotton and livestock products.


During the first ten months of this year, China's total volume of agricultural imports exceeded 25 billion US dollars, a record high.


Meanwhile, China will run an agricultural trade deficit of nearly 5 billion US dollars this year, the first deficit in more than two decades.


Professor Cheng Guoqiang says that the country can expect imports of major farming products to continue to grow next year.


"The growth of agricultural imports for next year is inevitable. Though China boasts a grain harvest this year, it is still difficult for it to raise its production capability by a large margin next year. So the demand for imported farm produce is still high for next year."


He says challenged by imported farm produce, the competitiveness of the country's agricultural industry has improved a lot since China's entry into the WTO three years ago.


China says it will further promote restructuring of the agricultural industry and raise its productivity.


(CRI.com December 9, 2004)


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