Friday, March 8, 2013

China: Agricultural Importer and Victim

One of China's top agricultural policy advisors acknowledged that China' big agricultural imports have become a permanent state of affairs, but he also portrayed China as a victim of an unfair global trade system.

According to a brief Futures Daily report, Cheng Guoqiang, a senior agricultural economist with the Development Research Center, said earlier this week, "Eight years ago I predicted that China would become a net importer of agricultural products and eight years later my prediction unfortunately has come true. The agricultural trade deficit has increased faster than expected, from $4.64 in 2004 to $50 billion in 2012" [dimsums translation]. The Futures Daily notes that China became the world's largest importer of agricultural products in 2012.

Cheng went on to surmise that the agricultural trade deficit is likely to persist. He cites the changing structure of demand and resource endowments but he also depicts China as a victim of globalization. Making reference to WTO accession (11 years ago), Cheng cites increasing competitive pressure from foreign modernized agriculture on China's small, fragmented traditional farming sector. Second, he cites an unjust global agricultural trade environment due to high subsidies and protectionism of developed countries.

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