At the 17th meeting of the US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade held yesterday (12 April), US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Minister Li Changjiang of China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine to improve bilateral cooperation on food safety and animal and plant health.

“China is an increasingly important market for US food and agricultural products,” said Johanns. “In 2005, US farmers and ranchers sold more than US$6bn in agricultural products to China, making it our fifth largest export market. This memorandum of understanding will create a structure to enable us to address sanitary, phytosanitary and food safety issues before they become barriers to the thriving agricultural trade between our two countries.”

Under the agreement, China and the US will exchange information on food regulations and standards, inspection and quarantine procedures and various other issues, including pets, disease, harmful residues and food certification.