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Vilsack reports progress in talks with China

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that he and Chinese leaders made progress on a number of high-priority issues during the 24th U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade which wrapped up today in Beijing, although details were not released.

“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 in a statement:

  • On beef access, Vilsack noted that the United States and China reached consensus to continued dialogue, with the intention to restore market access by the middle of 2014.
  • On horticulture, he re-affirmed a pathway “for re-opening China’s market for Washington apples and California citrus.”
  • On biotechnology Vilsack said he “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.” He added that 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, Vilsack said he raised lifting bans on poultry due to avian influenza and that China responded that they were analyzing information provided by USDA.

In separate discussions with Agriculture Minister Han Changfu, Vilsack said he 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 organized a reception in honor of Vilsack’s visit, including a broad range of U.S. and Chinese agribusiness leaders and high-level Chinese government officials, USDA said.