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Posts tagged: JCCT

Secretary to Discuss Agricultural Trade Issues During JCCT Meeting in China

While in China, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will participate in the meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Hangzhou on Thursday. He will be joined by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. The JCCT serves as an important forum for Cabinet-level officials from both countries to resolve trade concerns and enhance economic opportunities and cooperation in several areas, including agriculture. Vilsack met with his counterparts in Beijing for bilateral discussions before arriving in Hangzhou. Prior to tomorrow’s JCCT, Vilsack will meet with U.S. government officials, Vice Premier Wang Qishan, and several Ministers, to discuss what they hope to achieve during the meeting.

The United States and China are the largest agricultural producers and the world looks to our two countries for leadership in the trade arena. Since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, it has become the United States’ fourth largest market for agricultural exports and U.S. agricultural exports have reached more than $13 billion. We can attribute much of this dramatic growth to the market liberalization and adoption of standard rules that accompanied China’s accession to the WTO.

With market opportunities this large and two-way trade at more than $400 billion last year, we are bound to experience issues that require coordination. The JCCT provides a forum for the United States and China to discuss and resolve mutual trade concerns. As agricultural trade between our two countries grows, it is imperative that we have a transparent regulatory framework in place that both ensures food safety and prevents needless trade disputes.

One current issue that will be addressed during the JCCT are China’s H1N1-related restrictions on U.S. pork products, despite repeated guidance from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) that the H1N1 Influenza A virus is not transmitted by food. The USDA has fully engaged its trading partners to remind them that these international organizations have indicated that people cannot get the flu from eating pork or pork products. Other significant issues affecting trade with China-avian influenza and pathogen standards for meat and poultry products- will also be discussed at the JCCT.

Secretary Vilsack Arrives in Philippines for U.S. Trade Mission

On Saturday, I arrived in the Philippines for the first-ever USDA trade mission in Southeast Asia. The Philippines is a key market in the region for U.S. agricultural exports, with sales of over $1.77 billion in 2008, a record high, while U.S. agricultural imports from the Philippines reached $ 1.24 billion during the same period.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to learn more about the efforts of IRRI in addressing global food security through rice research. IRRI was established in 1960 and is the largest non-profit agricultural research center in Asia and is known as the home of the Green Revolution in Asia.

Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack, Philippines Secretary of Agriculture Yap and US Ambassador Kristie Kenney planting rice at the International Rice Research Institute

Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack, Philippines Secretary of Agriculture Yap and US Ambassador Kristie Kenney planting rice at the International Rice Research Institute

For over three decades, the U.S. Government (USG) has been a major supporter of IRRI through the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the coordinating organization through which funds for international agricultural research are administered to the 15 CGIAR centers around the globe.The USG has long viewed IRRI as a cornerstone of CGIAR because of the enormous contribution of rice to global food security, especially in Asia. IRRI is also a beneficiary of USDA and USAID support.

Today I spoke at the Trade Investment Mission on behalf of the USDA. USDA Trade and Investment Missions (TIMs) target emerging markets and free trade agreement (FTA) countries to promote two-way trade and investment. The mission provides U.S. participants with focused one-on-one meetings with host country business representatives. The mission also helps to identify business opportunities and address trade barriers. More than 20 U.S. agribusiness companies will participated in today’s TIM.

Before embarking on two site visits in the afternoon, I met with Philippines President Gloria Arroyo and Secretary of Agriculture Arthur Yap. During our meeting I announced plans for $8.5 million in international assistance under USDA’s Food for Progress Program for the Philippines in the aftermath of recent typhoons that have caused severe flooding in the country.

In the afternoon, I visited the Universal Robina Corporation’s (URC) Flour Milling Plant. The URC facility is only one of two fully automated flour milling plants in the Philippines. The URC Flour Division is one of the top flour millers in the Philippines and approximately 95 percent of all wheat used in this facility is from the United States.

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack with students at Sagad Elementary School

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack with students at Sagad Elementary School

After my visit to the URC Flour Milling Plant, I traveled to Sagad Elementary School to deliver food to students who had been affected by the recent natural disasters in the region. I leave tomorrow for China where I will attend a meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) to discuss agricultural trade.