Chinese Make Progress on U.S. Agriculture Agreement

Mar 22, 2000

Leaders of the House Agriculture Committee noted China's progress Tuesday in issuing orders to its port cities to receive the sales of U.S. meat, citrus as well as the continued expansion of Pacific Northwest wheat.  Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) and Ranking Minority Member Charlie Stenholm (D-TX) said that the good faith follow-through by the Chinese on last April's Agreement on U.S.-China Agricultural Cooperation sets rules completely favorable to the United States.

"It is essential that trade agreements are enforced," said Rep. Combest.  "Nothing undermines a trade policy more than failure to make sure other countries fully adhere to agreements they sign, which makes China's follow-through on our Agricultural Accord all the more significant.  China has signaled to U.S. agriculture that this could be the beginning of a good relationship.  The United States should go forward with the handshake that provides a permanent normal trade relationship authorized by Congress."

"China has done what it promised to do--it has removed unjustified restrictions on imports of US beef, citrus, and wheat.  Now it is our turn--there is absolutely no reason we shouldn't vote on permanent normal trade relations with China by Memorial Day," said Rep. Stenholm. "China cannot expect to maintain the $1 billion per week trade surplus it currently enjoys with the United States, and we have consistently told China that its entry to the World Trade Organization (WTO) depends on a commercially meaningful agreement.  In agriculture, the message seems to have been received.  With a population of more than 1.2 billion potential customers, China is a large and important market and I feel very optimistic about the potential this market holds for the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors of the U.S. economy."

The rules China issued to its ports instructs its government authorities to accept American meat, citrus, and more wheat based on sound science and the mutual benefits of welcoming those U.S. agricultural products.  The USDA projects that within 5 years, U.S. exports of agricultural products could grow by nearly $2 billion annually.  Exports of U.S. wheat like that from the Pacific Northwest, are expected to increase by more than 2 million metric tons.