Brussels, 11 June 2012
European Union and China step up cooperation in agriculture and rural development
The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Cioloş, and China Minister for Agriculture, Han Changfu, signed today in Beijing a Cooperation Plan on Agriculture and Rural Development. Building on established relations between China and the European Union, this Plan will give a new impetus to our partnership and bring mutual benefits by establishing a stronger and closer relationship in agriculture, so that we tackle bilateral and international challenges more effectively together.
Both sides will in particular gain from sharing ideas, best practices, and innovative solutions. We will address issues of food security, as well as our environmental challenges, so as to make agriculture more sustainable and enhance agricultural trade relations. Focusing on common priorities will bring new momentum to EU-China relations in agriculture and rural development. Priority sectors for cooperation may include: food security, international cooperation, environmental-friendly agriculture, organic farming, and food safety.
Commissioner Dacian Cioloş commented: "Agriculture is of crucial interest for both China and the European Union. We share a strong interest in deepening our bilateral cooperation in the fields of agriculture and rural development. This Cooperation Plan is a new step in our commitment to work together to address common challenges – in particular food security, rural development, food safety and climate change. We can meet these challenges by establishing a stronger and closer relationship in agriculture, at bilateral and international level, through very concrete cooperation projects and actions."
Minister Han Changfu further stated: "Agricultural cooperation between China and the European Commission enjoys remarkable achievements and bright prospects. Thus, to promote our bilateral cooperation in the agricultural sector serves our interests of both sides, and represents aspirations shared by China and the European Union. I am confident that with our concerted efforts, agricultural cooperation between China and the European Union will surely realize mutual benefits, win-win results and common development".
The EU-China trade in agricultural and food products has been growing steadily over the past few years. The EU and China are two major trading partners in agriculture: the EU is currently the third largest export market of agricultural products for China and the fifth largest source of import for Chinese market. The EU-China Dialogue on Agriculture established in July 2005 enables both China and the European Union to exchange on bilateral and multilateral agricultural issues and promote mutual understanding, trust and bilateral co-operation. Pilot projects were launched successfully, such as the Task Force on Agriculture and Food Biotechnology, and a proposed agro-ecological conducted under the joint program MSRP (EU-China Policy Dialogue Support Facility). Building on these fruitful experiences, the EU and China are willing to take this dialogue further and to start a strengthened cooperation in the field of agricultural research, rural development, food security and quality policies.
This plan will first lay the foundation for enhanced cooperation between the EU and China at the multilateral level and in international discussions. Both parties will agree on the continuation and intensification of consultations and coordination on themes related to agriculture and rural development during the events of high international standard and among the platforms and multilateral forums like the G20. It will bring results and mutual benefits through exchange of best practices, and sharing ideas in areas of common interests: research and innovation, climate change, food security and rural development. Each Party will learn from the experience of others and will thus face common challenges such as the preservation and revitalization of rural areas.