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momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
Focus on issues

Chinese Policy Paper No. 1: Agriculture remains a strategic priority

Momagri Editorial Board

February 27, 2017

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China released their 2017 program for agricultural policy. For the 14th consecutive year, the first political document of the year concerns agriculture. In a long list of objectives, not a single aspect of the agricultural and rural sector was omitted.

This paper, translated into English by the US and Canadian embassies in Beijing
1, demonstrates Beijing's agricultural objectives, most of which were already set out in the 13th Five-Year Plan 2016-2020 for a shift to a “greener and more modern agriculture”, i.e. improving farmers' incomes, taking into account environmental issues and managing resources and rural areas (reducing chemical inputs, land preservation, etc.), along with the development of innovation and sustainable and quality agricultural systems.

In view of recent complaints by the United States against China and its agricultural policy
2, this paper was particularly anticipated in view of learning whether Beijing intended to change its agricultural doctrine. Not at all! The adjustments brought to aid for corn are commended and should allow for improved food stock management. For the coming year, no significant changes to the guaranteed price mechanism for wheat and rice are contained in policy paper No 1. This was confirmed on 17th February 2017, when the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced a guaranteed price for rice (average and late) at 2720 CNY/t (approximately $393 USD) for 2017, a slight decrease of 1.4% compared with 20163.

Beyond the declared status quo, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China goes even further by clearly stating its position with regards international trade. On the one hand, it states: “We must use the international market in a coordinated way, optimize the domestic supply of agricultural produce and improve the import market on the basis of fair competition”. And on the other hand, “we need to improve laws and regulations against dumping and hidden subsidies”.

The paper, though focused on agriculture and the rural world, also makes reference to the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) strategic initiative, which is considered one of the most ambitious aimed at connecting China to the rest of the world. This new Silk Road, initiated in 2013, has huge resources and is based on massive external investments. The aim is to develop transport infrastructures and accelerate the development of trade in goods and people in order to revitalize the country's economy, secure energy supply and finally establish a line for regional stability. This economic belt includes China’s neighbours and Eurasia as a whole.

Concerning non-trade topics, there is a strong emphasis on protecting environmental resources. Another important point of this paper, sufficiently remarkable, is also pointed out. In terms of the evolution in production structures, “moderate-sized” family farming is emphasised, especially for dairy production. Collective action by farmers is also encouraged through “3 in 1” cooperatives that integrate procurement, marketing and credit.

This paper confirms, as though that was necessary, that Beijing considers its agricultural sector to be one of the key elements to its strategy for sustainable development. The measures listed in policy paper No 1 all stem from the desire to improve the existing framework and in no way should be translated as a move towards wild deregulation. From reading this paper, one can only conclude that Donald Trump's aggressive leanings vis-à-vis the Chinese agricultural policy have not really had any influence on the Middle Kingdom, but, without quoting Confucius, but Talleyrand, “all that is exaggerated is insignificant”.

1 https://gain.fas.usda.gov/(...)Publications/China's%202017%20Agricultural%20Policy(...).pdf
2 http://www.momagri.org/UK/focus-on-issues/The-United-States-did-not-wait-for-Donald-Trump-s-election-(...).html
3 Source IGC (International Grain Council)
4 http://www.latribune.fr/(...)/route-soie-et-banque-asiatique-l-europe-doit-s-interesser-aux-projets-chinois(...).html

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Paris, 29 April 2017