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Posts tagged: WTO

Online Systems Keeps U.S. Ag Exporters Abreast of Regulations in Foreign Markets

The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) recently launched an online system that modernizes the way the agency informs the U.S. agricultural industry regarding changes in international food and agriculture regulations that could affect U.S. exports.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) requires member countries to submit notifications regarding proposed changes to their food regulations, enabling other countries to review and comment on the proposals. The new FAS data management system will help U.S. exporters and other stakeholders to more effectively monitor, evaluate and comment on the measures, keep track of comment deadlines and locate archived information. Read more »

The Undisputed Champ in Almond Exports Goes to Russia

With Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) earlier this year, there is a growing interest in doing business with the Russian food and agricultural sector. This week, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS) Michael Scuse leads a U.S. delegation of more than 20 U.S. companies and five state departments of agriculture on an agricultural trade mission to Moscow and St. Petersburg. The goal of the mission is to continue a concerted effort by the Obama Administration to expand export opportunities for U.S. businesses with nations around the world, including Russia.

One example of a successful U.S.-Russia agricultural partnership is the export of California almonds to Russia for use in the confectionery sector. Russia is the second largest confectionery market in the world, and demand for high quality ingredients such as U.S. nuts and dried fruits have been increasing. With that in mind, Under Secretary Scuse and the state department delegates visit the Red October Chocolate Factory in Moscow, where they will see how this Russian company uses U.S. almonds. Read more »

SIAL China 2010 Trade Show Opens in Shanghai to Throngs of Visitors, Demonstrating to the World how Trade Works

By Janet Nuzum, Associate Administrator for USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service

Today I am in bustling and busy Shanghai representing USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service at the SIAL China 2010 trade show.  SIAL China is celebrating its 11th year as one of the largest, most comprehensive trade shows for the food, beverage, and hospitality industry in China. Last year, SIAL China had more than 1,000 exhibitors and over 28,000 visitors. As China’s trade and commercial center, this city is an appropriate place to hold a trade show of this magnitude, especially during World Trade Week.

In addition to the opening of SIAL China today, Shanghai is hosting the World Expo 2010 from May 1 through October 31. This Expo may be the largest World’s Fair ever, with 70 million visitors from all over the world expected to attend. With that many people anticipated in this city of 20 million over the next six months, you can only imagine how crowded the streets already are and will be. 

I had the opportunity to visit the World Expo yesterday, along with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, who is leading a clean energy business development and trade mission to China and Indonesia. I was truly amazed by the size and scope of this unforgettable Expo that is spread over two square miles along both sides of the Huangpu River that divides Shanghai.

In preparation for the World Expo, Shanghai has transformed itself in less than a decade from an industrial town to a cosmopolitan metropolis. Its growth is indicative of the rapid changes happening in this country of 1.3 billion people. Since China joined the World Trade Organization in December 2001, it has lowered tariffs and liberalized its economy, resulting in rapid growth in gross domestic product, direct foreign investment, imports and exports. 

This growth means Chinese consumers have more disposable income to spend on food and clothing, which creates real opportunities for U.S. exporters of food and fiber. That is why I am here at the SIAL China 2010 Trade Show to see and learn about the changes happening in this dynamic market and what it means for U.S. agricultural exporters. As I walked through the U.S. Pavilion, I saw Chinese buyers from both the retail and food service sectors looking eagerly at the vast range of U.S. food and beverage products on display. U.S. exporters are here from all over the United States from Alaska to Alabama.  Their products include everything from seafood to pork and wild blueberries to walnuts.  What an exciting array of sights, smells, and tastes!

Last year, 42 U.S. Pavilion exhibitors made $2.5 million in on-site sales with another $17 million expected over the ensuing 12 months.  With 58 U.S. exhibitors this year—the largest we have ever had at this show—sales will undoubtedly be even higher.  The growing number of U.S. exhibitors is a testament to the broader awareness in the United States of the tremendous market potential here in China.

Earlier today, I participated in a press conference with Chinese and foreign dignitaries to open the show, which runs from May 19-21. At the press conference, I emphasized how much we value our trade and economic relationship with China. Currently, China is the United States’ second largest market for U.S. agricultural exports. Last year, two-way trade in agricultural, fish, and forest products exceeded $21 billion, more than quadrupling in value since 2001. Clearly, both of our countries benefit immensely from our vibrant bilateral relationship and exchange of goods and services. And the U.S. exhibitors here at SIAL China 2010 assured me that the prospects for increased U.S. exports look even brighter!

FAS Associate Administrator Janet Nuzum speaks with U.S. exporters at the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association booth in the USA Pavilion at the SIAL China 2010 Trade Show in Shanghai, China. Photo Credit: Bill Shen, U.S. Agricultural Trade Office, Shanghai, China

FAS Associate Administrator Janet Nuzum speaks with U.S. exporters at the Western United States Agricultural Trade Association booth in the USA Pavilion at the SIAL China 2010 Trade Show in Shanghai, China. Photo Credit: Bill Shen, U.S. Agricultural Trade Office, Shanghai, China 

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.