Baucus Presses Top Chinese Officials to Address Trade Concerns, Open Market to Montana Beef
Senator Calls on Chinese Leaders to Remove Restrictions on American Beef, Appreciate China's Currency
Posted: Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Posted: Wednesday, October 13, 2010
(Beijing, China) - Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus urged top Chinese officials to comply with international rules and open the Chinese market to U.S. beef during meetings in Beijing yesterday and today.* Baucus met with Vice President Xi Jingping, Vice Premier Wang Qishan and other top Chinese officials to press China to work with the United States to reach an agreement ending restrictions on American beef as soon as possible.
"The facts are clear: American beef is safe and meets international scientific standards, and there is no legitimate reason for China to restrict it," said Baucus. "China's unfounded and unscientific barriers on U.S. beef are unfairly impeding American exports and hurting hardworking Montana ranchers, and we can't stand for it. Increasing Montana exports, especially agricultural commodities, is essential to creating good-paying jobs and growing our economy, and we must open the Chinese market to world-class Montana beef."
As Vice President, Xi Jingping is second in line to Chinese President Hu Jintao. As Vice Premier, Wang Qishan is in charge of economic, energy, and financial affairs in China.
In addition to the Vice President and Vice Premier, Baucus also met with Commerce Minister Chen Deming, who is responsible for international trade policy in China. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, with sole jurisdiction over international trade in the U.S. Senate, Baucus has been fighting to open China and all markets for Montana ranchers, farmers and exporters.
In China, Baucus also pressed Chinese leaders, including Vice Governor of the People's Bank of China Yi Gang, to address other issues hurting the competitiveness of Montana exporters - including China's undervaluation of its currency and ineffective protection and enforcement of U.S. intellectual property rights, including the piracy of American software. As Vice Governor of the People's Bank, Yi Gang is responsible for setting China's currency policy and is directly responsible for managing the exchange rate.
"A stronger relationship between the United States and China will create jobs in both our countries, from Billings to Beijing. But more work is needed to ensure China is competing fairly," said Baucus. "To strengthen our relationship, we must address critical issues, including China's currency practices, ineffective protection of intellectual property rights, trade barriers that hurt American workers and unjustified restrictions on U.S. beef. We need to face these issues head on, and we need to work together to increase our ties in ways that create jobs and increase exports for Montana and workers across the United States. This trip is all about finding solutions to these very real concerns."
Baucus also met with China's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, in Beijing to discuss ways to improve economic cooperation between China and Montana. Baucus and Yang Jiechi discussed the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting Baucus fought to bring to Big Sky in May 2011, along with ways to increase Chinese tourism to the Montana. The APEC meeting will bring cabinet-level representatives from 21 countries, along with hundreds of other officials, to Big Sky to discuss ways to deepen the trade and economic relationships of APEC's members. The Asia-Pacific region, including China, encompasses some of Montana's most important trading partners, and Montana's exports to APEC countries nearly tripled over the last decade.
In September, Baucus brought the Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Zhang Yesui, and other ambassadors from around the world to Big Sky to kick off the Montana host committee for APEC.
During the ambassadors' visit to Montana, Baucus hosted a tour of a Montana ranch and meetings with Montana ag producers to promote Montana beef. As a result, the Chinese Ambassador announced at Baucus' Economic Development Summit in Butte that he will direct his embassy to explore ways to increase China's purchases of Montana wheat and beef.
"Montana produces the highest-quality beef in the world. Last month, I brought the Chinese Ambassador to a Montana cattle ranch to experience our top-quality operations for himself. Ambassador Zhang recognized the importance of increasing Montana's beef exports to China, and committed to finding a way to do so. Now we've got to hold China's feet to the fire and demand an open market for Montana ranchers to sell their world-class beef," Baucus said.
American beef has been certified safe by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which is the internationally recognized standard-setting body for animal food products. China's current restrictions effectively ban the importation of American beef. If China re-opened its market, the U.S. beef industry estimates that American beef exports would reach $200 million or more in the first year, which would make China one of the top five markets for American beef.
*Editor's note: Beijing is 14 hours ahead of Montana.
Contact: Kate Downen (406) 224-839-4713/Jennifer Donohue (202) 224-2651
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