New Chapter in Mutually Beneficial China-U.S. Agricultural Cooperation

Speech by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping at U.S.-China High-Level Agricultural Symposium

(Iowa, U.S.A., February 16, 2012)

It's a great pleasure for me to attend the U.S.-China High-Level Agricultural Symposium in Iowa during my official visit to the United States. Not only because I visited Iowa, America's granary, 27 years ago, to study maize planting and deep processing technology, but also because I was a farmer in China's western region for 7 years and was a village head for quite a while. Moreover, when working in China's Hebei, Fujian, Zhejiang provinces and Shanghai Municipality, my job was to lead local agricultural work, and thus I have a special attachment to agriculture, rural areas and farmers. Here, I'd like to extend my best wishes for a successful symposium and extends a sincere welcome to Chinese and U.S. participants.

The symposium's theme aims at strengthening mutually beneficial China-U.S. agricultural cooperation, focusing on issues of common concern like grain security, food security, sustainable agriculture and agricultural economic trade, etc. I believe this will deepen China-U.S. agricultural exchange and cooperation and help make the two countries' agriculture more developed and farmers more prosperous.

Food is what matters to the people. Agriculture is the basic industry on which the survival and development of human society depends. Food security, energy security and financial security compose economic security in today's world. Promoting international agriculture and food cooperation on a strategic level will significantly benefit the common development of all countries.

Agriculture is a key area of developing relations and deepening cooperation between China and the United States. Over the years, China-U.S. agricultural exchanges and cooperation have grown steadily.

The first contributing factor is that China and the United States are both major agricultural countries and share significant common interests and broad space for cooperation in the agricultural sector. The second is that China has earnestly fulfilled its WTO commitments in the past 10 years and reduced its tariffs on agricultural products to one quarter of the world's average.

China's agricultural subsidies are not high enough to pose a threat to normal trade. In the past decade, the average annual increase of China-U.S. agricultural trade exceeded 20 percent. Bilateral trade volumes on agricultural products surpassed $30 billion in 2011, making China the biggest export market for U.S. agricultural products.

It is also beneficial that the two governments attach great importance to stable agricultural cooperation between China and the United States. Although there exist differences in agriculture in terms of resource endowment, development stage, technological level, etc. great importance is attached to agriculture by both countries. Both regard it as important to promote trade in agricultural products and improve the investment environment. International cooperation is regarded as an important channel to develop agriculture and promote agricultural development globally. This has pushed forward the two countries' stable and sustainable agricultural development, with an ever expanding agricultural product market and deepening agricultural cooperation. The agricultural departments of both countries have conducted smooth and effective dialogue and pragmatic cooperation under the mechanisms of the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the China-U.S. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade and the China-U.S. Joint Commission on Agriculture.

China always attaches great importance to national food security and gives top priority to developing agriculture, benefiting rural areas, raising the income of farmers and steadily solving the problem of feeding 1.3 billion people. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, China's grain production increased from 100 million tons to 570 million tons, with the per-capita grain output rising from 200 kg to today's 400 kg.

The production and supply of meat, eggs, dairy products, aquatic products, vegetables and fruits are sufficient in China. Chinese farmers' per-capita net income has risen from 44 yuan ($7) to 6,977 yuan ($1,107), while the rural poor population has dropped significantly and farmers' living quality has greatly improved. China has managed to feed almost 21 percent of the global population with less than 9 percent of the world's arable land. The year 2011 marked eight successive years of increasing total grain output. Since 2007, China's total annual grain output had exceeded 500 million tons. All this has ensured the stable operation of China's domestic grain market.

Population growth as well as rapid urbanization and industrialization has pushed up China's total grain consumption. At present, except for soybeans, China's supply of the three major types of grain–wheat, rice and maize–is basically sufficient. China has adequate food stocks and sufficient market supply and has established grain, food and oil reserves nationwide, with ever improving management. This not only effectively stabilizes domestic grain market prices but also makes a major contribution to safeguarding world's food security. China actively carries out international agricultural exchanges and cooperation. It has provided agricultural assistances for developing countries within the framework of South-South cooperation and plays an active role in helping developing countries enhance agricultural production and food production capacity and achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals.

In today's world, agricultural production is increasingly restricted by factors like population, resources and environment. The impact of climate change on agricultural production is increasing. These are new threats to human beings' agricultural development and grain security. There are still many uncertain and unstable factors in the global economic recovery, so to maintain stable agricultural development is of great importance to consolidating the achievements in coping with the international financial crisis, promoting robust, sustainable and balanced growth of the world economy. Like other areas, we need to set up a concept of cooperation in international grain production. In current circumstances, to expand mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the United States will not only help ensure the stable operation of the two economies, but also support global economic recovery.

The following efforts should be made to deepen China-U.S. agricultural exchanges and cooperation at a new historical starting point. First, we should step up technological cooperation, strive to improve the efficiency of agricultural production and promote sustainable agricultural development.

Second, we should strengthen economic and trade exchanges, endeavor to improve efficiency of resource allocation and create a fair and reasonable market environment.

Third, we should reinforce communication and coordination, deepen cooperation to cope with international agricultural hot issues and jointly safeguard world food security.

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