Sec. Vilsack, Sec. Locke & Amb. Kirk sign new trade agreements with China

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Dec. 15 - American farmers and ranchers are among the winners from new trade and cooperation agreements signed Wednesday in Washington by U.S. and Chinese officials including U.S. Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan. The officials said they expect further progress next month when China's President Hu Jintao will be in Washington for meetings with President Obama.

 Together we can feed the Bees
Pleased with their U.S-China JCCT agreements, L to R, Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack, Commerce Sec. Gary Locke,
Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. Photo: Agri-Pulase.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said at the signing ceremony of the 21st annual U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) that “Because we deal with those issues that are critically important to farmers and ranchers and businesses, I think our work is vital.” He said “there are hundreds of thousands of farms and ranches” benefitting from previous JCCT agreements. He pointed out specifically that last year's breakthrough agreement on U.S. pork exports to China has boosted sales significantly.

The seven new agreements signed Wednesday cover a wide range of topics. Along with agriculture, there are agreements on protecting intellectual property rights, removing barriers to supplying equipment to wind power projects in China, and setting international standards for smart grid technology. For agriculture, the agreements should lead to boosting U.S. soybean, beef and poultry exports. On beef, the U.S. and China agreed to resume talks on beef market access the week of January 3, 2011. On poultry, China announced that it has lifted Avian Influenza-related bans on U.S. poultry products from Idaho and Kentucky and the U.S. has asked China to take prompt action in accordance with science-based international standards on four remaining state-level bans. Both sides agreed to further technical talks to address issues concerning the remaining four states.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack said “I look forward to a team of USDA officials traveling to China after the first of the year to continue technical discussions concerning the opening of the beef trade from U.S. beef to Chinese consumers.” He also said he will “look forward to a continued dialogue and discussion on issues of common interest in the area of organics both in the United States and in China.”

Saying he's “pleased with the progress made today towards resolving our differences on beef access,” Vilsack explained that “Technical talks will resume as soon as possible with the goal of re-opening China's market in early 2011. This is a vital outcome for our farmers and ranchers, underscoring the importance of the JCCT in providing a forum for our stakeholders.”

Kirk concluded that “This has been a very successful JCCT . . . this is becoming one of the most dynamic economic trade relationships in the world.”

For more on the new JCCT agreements signed Wednesday, go to:

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