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Ag Groups Push China’s President Xi Jinping on Biotech

September 11, 2015
The U.S. agriculture sector is urging President Barack Obama to pressure China's President Xi Jinping to improve his country’s biotech approval process when the two meet later this September, Politico Pro Ag’s Bill Tomson recently reported.

BIO along 100 signatories signed on to the September 4th letter to the White House, encouraging the president to squeeze biotech into the agenda.

According to Tomson, Obama already engaged Xi on China’s unreliable approval process in November during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing, leading to a commitment from both countries to hold annual talks on the issue. A month later, high-level negotiators unveiled the agreement to hold an annual Strategic Agricultural Innovation Dialogue, and Agriculture Department officials immediately set to work trying to plan the first bilateral meeting. But a meeting has yet to happen some eight months later.

In the letter, the groups ask for President Obama to obtain a commitment from President Xi to “advance the queue” of products in the regulatory system in 2015:
"This would include not only the seven products currently awaiting final import approval, but also products awaiting approval to start field tests, and making decisions and acting on products currently in field trials.

"These actions will provide U.S. farmers new and much needed tools to address environmental and agronomic stress and give the value chain greater confidence that trade will not be disrupted."

Further, the groups urged President Obama to obtain agreement with President Xi to further strengthen our bilateral commitment to collaboratively encourage and foster policies that promote innovation in agriculture and trade, both in China and in the U.S.:
"President Xi could assist in this effort by directing a broader group of Chinese Ministries to engage at a high level in the Strategic Agriculture Innovation Dialogue (SAID), which was created last December for this purpose, but has yet to meet."

Read here the letter in its entirety.

On September 10th, Politico Pro's Doug Palmer confirmed that the United States and China are expected to hold the first meeting of a new bilateral dialogue on agricultural biotech issues during Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to Washington.
"There will be a strategic agriculture dialogue on the sidelines of the meeting,"John Frisbie, president of the U.S.-China Business Council, told reporters.

"I think things like bioapprovals are likely to be part of that."

U.S. farm groups have been frustrated with China's lengthy approval process for approval of new biotech crops.  Palmer also confirmed that Xi is expected in Washington on or about Sept. 24-25, but official dates have not yet been announced.