Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently welcomed China's Minister of Agriculture Sun Zhengcai to the United States to discuss a wide range of agricultural trade issues.

They concluded their talks by renewing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on bilateral cooperation in scientific research and agricultural trade between the two countries. The original MOU signed in August 2003 established a Joint Committee on Cooperation in Agriculture (JCCA), which meets at least once every two years alternately in the United States and China.

"Since China joined the WTO in 2001, it has become our fourth largest market for agricultural exports," said Vilsack. "With two-way agricultural trade reaching nearly $15 billion, it is not surprising that there are issues that require coordination. The renewal of this MOU is an indication of the importance that both countries place on cooperation and working together. The MOU solidifies the JCCA to develop and guide future collaboration between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture."

The next JCCA meetings are scheduled for Oct. 22, 2009, in Washington. Following those meetings, Vilsack will travel to China along with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to participate in the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) in Hangzhou on Oct. 29. The JCCT serves as an important forum for Cabinet-level officials from both countries to resolve trade concerns and enhance economic opportunities and cooperation. USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services James Miller just returned from China where he participated in meetings of the Agriculture and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Working Groups under the JCCT.

A copy of the JCCA MOU is available at http://www.fas.usda.gov/itp/china/us-China.asp.