WASHINGTON – The Office
of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture received
assurances today from China’s Government that new Chinese import regulations
will not interfere with trade in U.S. soybeans and other commodities.
Chief Agriculture Negotiator Allen F. Johnson and USDA Under Secretary for Farm
and Foreign Agricultural Services J.B. Penn received the assurances from Beijing
during a meeting with Charge d’Affaires (acting Ambassador) Lan Lijun in
During the meeting, the
U.S. officials expressed concern regarding a new agricultural import regulation
that is inhibiting trade in soybeans.
Ambassador, on advice from his capital, assured Ambassador Johnson and Under
Secretary Penn of his government’s strong commitment to maintaining the
“win-win” U.S.-China trade in soybeans.
He indicated that the purpose of the new regulation was to extend the
validity of quarantine inspection permits from three to six months and would not
interfere with U.S. exports of soybeans to China.
market conditions for U.S. shipments of soybeans and other key agricultural
commodities to China is critical to American farmers,” Ambassador Johnson
said. “The assurances provided by
the Government of China today should help alleviate the concerns of farmers and
exporters as they prepare for the fall harvest and shipping
“Soybeans are America’s
largest export crop, and China is the largest soybean export market,” said Under
Secretary Penn. “Continued access
to the Chinese market is a high priority for American agriculture, and this
Administration is working to ensure that China continues to abide by its market
Ambassador Johnson and
Under Secretary Penn also made clear that while the assurances of China’s
Government are welcome, the United States has reiterated a request that China
suspend or rescind Decree 73 until China has properly notified a revised measure
to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and considers the comments of its trading
partners. The acting Ambassador
agreed that it was important to have a continuing U.S.-China dialogue on Decree
late June, China’s quarantine and inspection agency, the State General
Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ)
released Decree 73, Items on Handling the Review and Approval for Animal
and Plant Entry Quarantine. The Decree extended the validity of
China’s quarantine inspection permits from three to six months, a policy change
that was agreed to by China during April 2004 meeting of the U.S.-China Joint
Commission on Commerce and Trade.
However, the Decree also raised concerns by requiring that all contracts
for the importation of soybeans, as well as other products subject to the
quarantine entry process, include Chinese quarantine requirements as a contract
traders are concerned that this requirement results in a shift to the exporter
of all of the economic risk associated with complying with Chinese quarantine
and food safety requirements. This
is inconsistent with standard international practice for commercial
contracts. In addition, before
implementing the measure, China did not notify Decree 73 to the World Trade
Organization (WTO) and allow an opportunity for comment by Members, as required
by WTO rules.
Senior U.S. officials
have raised their concerns with their Chinese counterparts since Decree 73 was
issued in late June. The U.S.
Ambassador to Beijing had earlier raised the issue with senior Chinese
officials. Ambassador Zoellick and Secretary Veneman had also recently contacted
their counterparts regarding this issue.
United States exported $2.9 billion worth of soybeans to China in 2003.