BUSINESS China releases import certificates for US GM soybeans as phase one trade deal approaches


China releases import certificates for US GM soybeans as phase one trade deal approaches

Global Times

06:18, December 31, 2019


A combine and a grain cart work in a soybean field of Pellett family's farm in Atlantic, a small city in Iowa, the United States, Oct. 16, 2019. (Photo: Xinhua)

China released two new genetically modified (GM) import certificates for US soybeans and papaya on Monday, a potential move to allow more imports of US agricultural products as the world's two largest economies are on their way to signing a phase one trade deal.

Experts said that whether more US GM imports will come into China depends on how well the trade negotiations between the two proceed, and China will continue to follow its strict supervision process on GM products.

China released a list of 12 GM safety certificates for agricultural imports on Monday, including two new import certificates for GM soybeans from US agricultural giant Corteva Agriscience, and GM papayas jointly developed by the US Department of Agriculture and Hawaii University, according to a notice from the official website of China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

The list also includes 10 renewed certificates for imports including BASF-developed T25 corn, A5547-127 soybean, T45 canola, Oxy-235 canola, and Ms8Rf3 canola, read the notice.

All approvals took effect from December 2 and will last for three years.

Release of the certificates is a routine practice every year, while the notice, which comes at a critical moment when China and the US have agreed to sign a phase one trade deal, could also be viewed as a way of China making a goodwill gesture. Both sides want to end a prolonged trade war, which hurt both, an industry insider surnamed Ma told the Global Times on Monday.

The US is the world's biggest producer of GM crops, while China is the top importer of GM soybeans and canola, according to a Reuters report.

"However, certificates are just the first step. Whether China will indeed import more of these products would depend on the progress of the China-US trade negotiations," given the US side has been capricious over the past year, Li Guoxiang, a research fellow at the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday.

"If the two come to an agreement in the agriculture sector in phase one trade deal, China will keep its promise. We hope the US could also follow suit," Li added.

China routinely releases import certificates every year. Last year, China approved five new certificates for companies including BASF, DuPont Pioneer and Corteva Agriscience.

China follows a very strict and time-consuming approval and risk assessment procedure for imports of GM products, experts said, adding that China will continue to follow the procedure to ensure the safety of concerned products.

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