As we leave Beijing for Shanghai on China’s high speed rail, traveling at approximately at 180mph through vibrant countryside, it’s exciting to envision California’s future. Governor Brown is embracing that future with an agreement with six local Chinese governments to expand trade and investment opportunities, with agriculture as one of the seven priority sectors of the agreement. As the world’s ninth largest economy – California’s expanding relationship with China is all the more critical.
Our time in Beijing was exciting – showing great promise for California’s potential in the market. The agriculture delegation had opportunities to meet with several government agencies concerning market access for California’s specialty crop industry, and organic certification applications for U.S. producers. These meetings reinforced the need for the greater cooperation to expand mutually beneficial trade between our two nations. Market access for agricultural products is a very complex process. I applaud the U.S. Embassy and the USDA for their dedication, representation, and advocacy on behalf of U.S. farmers and ranchers.
We also met with representatives of the online division of one of the largest state-owned enterprises within the agricultural sector – COFCO. This online platform is China’s fastest growing business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce website and is doubling sales every year. This division focuses on selling grocery products to consumers and providing same day delivery in several cities. The dynamics of buying and selling food in Asia is changing and California needs to be part of the process. China, with its growing consumer class and younger consumer demographic, is a great place to start.
This trip is providing a fascinating look at China in several economic sectors. The similarities in issues – climate change, market access, and investment – link us more than they separate us.
China has a very prominent role in California’s future and I look forward to expanding our trade relationships in agriculture.