WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 23, 2013) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reported progress on a number of trade issues with China as a result of the 24th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT), which wrapped up in Beijing on Dec. 23.
The JCCT is the highest level bilateral forum for the resolution of trade and investment issues between the United States and China. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman co-chaired the JCCT with China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang.
“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.
At the JCCT, a number of high-priority issues for agriculture were discussed, including access for beef and horticultural products, the approval process for biotechnology products, and import suspensions for four states related to avian influenza.
On beef access, the United States and China reached consensus to continued 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 they were analyzing information provided by USDA.
In his separate discussions with Agriculture Minister Han Changfu, the Secretary shared a proposal for a revised Memorandum of Understanding focused on science and technology cooperation in the field of agriculture.
The two countries also committed to hold a second High Level Agricultural Symposium in 2014, with support from the U.S.-China Agriculture and Food Partnership (AFP). The recently formed AFP also organized a kick-off reception in honor of Secretary Vilsack’s visit, including a broad range of U.S. and Chinese agribusiness leaders and high-level Chinese government officials.