China to further open up agricultural markets

China will further open up its markets to overseas agricultural businesses by slashing trade barriers and promoting technological exchanges, an official said on Tuesday.

Xie Jianmin, a Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs official who oversees international cooperation, said China will continue to make trade easier with countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, offering shortcuts for the express import of fresh produce and hosting fairs and exhibitions.

He promised to roll out a consultation system to facilitate exchanges of farm technologies in key areas, and step up technological assistance for developing countries in order to bolster their production capacities.

“We’ll work with other countries to reduce trade barriers, to establish stable and reliable partnerships and a free and convenient business environment,” he said, while speaking at the 3rd International Agricultural Research Conference, which opened on Tuesday in Beijing.

The moves came as China looks overseas for quality farm produce to boost domestic supply, and for new technologies to modernize its agricultural sector that feeds nearly one-fifth of the world’s population with only 10 percent of the global arable land.

It also came against the backdrop of an African swine fever outbreak in recent years that has reduced the production of the food staple for Chinese customers.

Xie said globalization is irreversible, and China’s development entails high levels of cooperation and opening-up. “China has one of the most open agricultural markets and has been continuing to lower the threshold for entrance and optimizing the business environment,” Xie said.

China has seen a marked increase in agricultural trade volume, reaching $216.8 billion last year, a year-on-year increase of 7.7 percent, he said.