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China, Australia to Further Agricultural Cooperation

China and Australia will enhance agricultural cooperation to ensure food quality and safety and promote bilateral trade, senior agricultural officials said in Beijing Thursday.

Chinese Minister of Agriculture Du Qinglin said at a China-Australia agricultural innovation forum that the agricultural trade has become an important component of the sound bilateral ties.

Chinese Customs statistics show that Sino-Australian trade hit US$7.2 billion in the first seven months of 2003, up 28 percent year-on-year.

"Agricultural trade accounts for about 20 percent of Australia-China trade," said Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Warren Truss at the forum.

The two countries are "greatly complementary" and share "enormous potential" in agricultural trade and cooperation, Truss said.

China, with scarce per-capita land and water, is good at producing labor-intensive agricultural products while Australia has technological advantages and is cutting-edge in making land-intensive products, which forges a basis for further cooperation, Du said.

On the free trade and market access of agricultural products, China and Australia share common ground, Du added.

"We hope the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting to be held in Cancun, Mexico this month, will bring progress in that regard," Du said, noting that China aims to reduce or eliminate measures which will distort trade.
(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2003)

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