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Trump Administration Should Remain Steadfast in Pushing China Towards Structural Reforms

Josh Falzone
January 30, 2019

As part of the 90-day trade negotiations between the United States and China, today Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is in Washington to participate in bilateral trade talks with the Trump administration.

One major component the Trump administration has pushed for in such trade talks is structural reforms of China’s market. China’s systemic impediments to trade and non-tariff barriers, such as the country’s regulatory framework for agricultural biotechnology, has hindered the timely approval of new agricultural products in China. According to a recent analysis, China’s delays in approving biotechnology crops have resulted in foregone U.S. economic growth of nearly 34,000 jobs, $7 billion in GDP, and $4.6 billion in wages.

In a statement ahead of the Chinese vice premier’s visit, BIO CEO and President Jim Greenwood laid out what the biotechnology industry needs to see in a trade deal with China:

"President Trump has taken unprecedented measures to take on China – our largest trading partner – for its history of trade abuses. Beijing has long imposed unjustified restrictions on U.S. companies seeking to do business in and export to China, particularly with respect to agricultural products.

"With Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in Washington to participate in bilateral trade talks, the Trump administration should remain steadfast in pushing China towards structural reforms of its market. This means that any prospective trade deal with China cannot be based simply on a promise to buy more U.S. products. Such a bargain would fail to address the longstanding impediments that have contributed to the trade deficit with China.

"Any trade deal must require systemic change from China when it comes to U.S. agricultural exports. It’s time for the Chinese government to implement a predictable, timely, transparent and science-based decision-making process that facilitates trade and the importation of agricultural biotechnology products.

"Under China’s current opaque regulatory system for agriculture, Beijing arbitrarily dictates what technologies our farmers can use to address production challenges such as pests and drought. This month, Beijing approved only five of the 10 biotechnology crops seeking Chinese market access. Many of the still-unapproved products have languished in China’s regulatory process for more than six years – with no rational or legitimate scientific basis for the hold-up.

"As we near the March 1 deadline for a trade deal, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross must be resolute and insist on a deal with enduring commitments and not only purchases of U.S. goods. Any trade deal lacking fundamental reform is inadequate and only will exacerbate the inequities in our existing trading relationship that President Trump rightly is trying to tackle."