ASA officials particularly cheered the inclusion of commitments to address the current backlog of approvals of new biotechnology traits for import into China, and also welcomed the commitments to restart U.S. beef exports to China.
“Clearly, we’ve been frustrated for some time now with the slow and unpredictable nature of China’s biotech approval process that has hampered the ability of U.S. soybean farmers to adopt the latest biotech traits. This week’s announcement that the Chinese have committed to ruling on eight outstanding traits is a major step forward,” said ASA President and Illinois farmer Ron Moore. “We recognize and greatly appreciate the administrations of both President Trump and President Xi for coming together and establishing a dialogue that we hope will yield more progress on biotech traits and larger market access issues in China in the future.”
China is by far the largest buyer of U.S. soybeans. American farmers sent more than $14 billion in soybeans, meal and oil to China, or roughly one in every four rows of beans produced in the U.S. Under the 100-day plan, China’s National Biosafety Committee (NBC) has committed to conduct science-based evaluations of the eight outstanding traits, and either approve or offer justification for—and next steps to resubmit following—rejection for each.
“There’s not a soybean farmer in the country that doesn’t recognize the importance of the Chinese market to his or her success,” Moore added. “The Chinese are our most significant trading partners, and while we understand that this step only clears the current backlog of unapproved traits, we hope that it will signal progress in opening and clarifying China’s approval process.”
Moore also commended the administration, including the Department of Commerce, USDA and USTR for their role in moving the plan forward.
“President Trump and Secretary Ross deserve a great deal of credit for putting together a level-headed, results-based plan with their Chinese counterparts,” he said. “We appreciate their work, and look forward to what’s next.”
As part of the 100-day plan, China will also begin the process of allowing imports of U.S. beef into that country, a development that will benefit soybean farmers given that soybean meal is a component of cattle feed rations domestically.