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A New Chapter of Sino-U.S. Mutually-Beneficial Agricultural Cooperation

DATE:2012-02-22       SOURCE:
 

Xinhua News Agency

February 20, 2012

 

Distinguished Secretary Vilsack,

 

Distinguished Governor Branstad, Ambassador Locke,

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Today, I feel glad to attend U.S.-China Agricultural Symposium co-hosted by Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture during my official visit to the U.S.

 

27 years ago, I led a study group of corn planting and deep processing technology to Iowa State, known as the granary of America. I used to be a farmer for 7 years in Western China. I was a head of a village. When I worked in places including Hebei, Fujian, Zhejiang, and Shanghai, I was in charge of agriculture. My strong affection for agriculture, the countryside, and farmers developed from those experiences make me feel more pleased to be here today.

 

I would like to extend my warm congratulations to the opening of this symposium, and sincere welcome as well as respect to all the participants.

 

The theme of the symposium is to strengthen Sino-US agricultural cooperation that brings mutual benefits and win-win progress. There will be panel discussions on issues of common interests such as food security, food safety, sustainable agriculture and agricultural economic and trade relations. I believe that discussion at this symposium will further reinforce Sino-US agricultural cooperation and help us upgrade agriculture, develop rural areas, and increase farmers’ income.

 

Food is what matters to the people. Agriculture is the fundamental industry for the existence and development of all mankind. The security of food, energy, and finance are the three major elements that constitute global economic security. International agricultural and food cooperation from a strategic level will have a profound and long term effect on promoting mutually-beneficial and win-win development of all countries.

 

Agriculture is a key area in developing Sino-U.S. relations and deepening cooperation. Over many years, cooperation and exchanges between China and the United States in agriculture have maintained a good momentum, which is mainly attributed to the following factors:

 

First, both China and the U.S. are large agricultural countries. Both nations share vital interests and have great potential for cooperation in agriculture.

 

Second, in the past decade, China has faithfully implemented its WTO commitment and reduced its tariffs on agricultural products to one quarter of the world's average. Domestic support is relatively low, far from a threat to the normal trade. Over the past decade, the average annual increase of China-U.S. agricultural trade exceeded 20 percent. In 2011, trade surpassed $ 30 billion, making China the number one market for U.S. agricultural products. Fast growing agricultural trade has provided more food choices for people of both countries, and facilitated the flow of high-quality agricultural goods from the two nations.

 

Last but not the least, despite differences in resources, development stage, science and technology capacity, what China and the U.S. have in common is the commitment of both governments to agricultural development. Promoting agricultural trade and improving investment environment are priorities in both nations. International cooperation is regarded by the two sides as a vital way to spur both national agricultural development and global agricultural growth. This leads to sustainable and stable agricultural development in both countries with expanding agri-product markets and deepening cooperation. Moreover, many mechanisms including China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Sino-US Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, and Sino-US Joint Committee on Cooperation in Agriculture have been established to push ahead effective dialogues and pragmatic cooperation between China and the U.S.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

China is a developing country with a population of 1.34 billion. China has always attached great importance to national food security. Developing agriculture, bringing benefits to the countryside, increasing farmers’ income, and feeding a population of 1.3 billion are at the top of the national agenda.

 

Over more than 6 decades since the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, national food production has increased from more than 100 million tons to 570 million tons. Food per capita has risen from 200 kilograms to 400 kilograms. Production and supply of meat, eggs, milk, aquaculture products, fruit and vegetables has become more diverse. Net income per capita of farmers has grown from 44 RMB to 6977 RMB. Rural poverty has been largely reduced. The quality of farmers’ life has been greatly improving.

 

China feeds nearly 21 % of world population with less than 9 % of global arable land. In 2011, food production gained growth for 8 consecutive years since 2004, surpassing 500 million tons 5 years in a row since 2007 and thus ensuring stable national food supply.

 

With the rapid growth of population and fast urbanization and industrialization, China’s aggregate demand for food is growing steadily while per capita food consumption dropping slightly, having a smaller share of the total food consumption. At present, except for soybeans the import of which are necessary to supply the domestic market, there is balanced domestic supply and demand of other three major varieties, i.e. wheat, rice and corn. China has rich food stocks and sufficient market supply. In particular, thanks to consecutive growth of food production in recent years, China has further enriched its food stocks. China has set up state reserves of grains and edible oils at many places and continues to improve their management, which stabilizes the food price at home and contributes to global food security.

 

China also actively engages in international agricultural exchange and cooperation. Under South-South cooperation framework, China has provided agricultural assistance within its capacities, especially in hyrid rice, to other developing countries, playing a positive role in improving agricultural productivity and food production of developing nations as well as achieving MDGs.

 

Nowadays, multiple restraints of population, resources and environment, as well as climate change hinders agricultural production and poses new challenges to agricultural growth and food security worldwide. As global economic recovery is still fragile, stable development in agriculture will be crucial in securing progress in tackling international financial crisis and promoting a strong, sustainable and balanced global economic growth. Same as in other areas, the concept of “cooperation for security” should be established in world food production. Under the present circumstances, elevating mutually-beneficial cooperation between China and the U.S. in agriculture to a new high would ensure stable economic development of both nations and speed up global economic recovery.

 

Looking ahead at this historic moment, there are three ways for both countries to deepen agricultural cooperation.

 

First, enhance cooperation in science and technology. We should strive to improve agricultural productivity, find every possible way to conserve resources, protect environment, and promote sustainable agriculture.

 

Second, promote economic and trade relations. We should setp up efforts to raise resource allocation efficiency, create a fair and reasonable market environment, explore potential for cooperation, and accelerate rural economic growth.

 

Third, strengthen communication and coordination. We should make intensive efforts to deepen coordination and cooperation on world hot agricultural issues, and increase information exchange and resources sharing to join hands in guaranteeing world food security.

 

At the noon, Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture will sign Sino-US Plan of Strategic Cooperation in Agriculture to identify goals and prioritize areas for cooperation. I believe that the well-based Sino-U.S. agricultural cooperation will achieve greater success and embrace a brighter future.

 

I wish this symposium a great success!

 

Thank you!

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