February 19,2002

Grassley Works to Protect U.S. Farm Exports to China

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Committee on Finance, hasasked the Chinese government for more reasonable regulations regarding U.S. shipments of soybeansand other agricultural products to China. The text of the letter Grassley sent with his Democraticcounterpart follows.

February 15, 2002
The Honorable Yang Jiechi
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the
People’s Republic of China to the United States
2300 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

We are writing regarding the new regulations governing biotechnology imports the Chinesegovernment intends to implement on March 20, 2002. We are very concerned that these new ruleswill result in significant harm to United States agricultural producers, food processors, and exporters.Indeed, we understand that United States export shipments of soybeans and affected productsfor delivery after March 20 have already been canceled. This is most disturbing, since about $1billion in trade may be adversely affected. Specifically, we are especially concerned about twothings.

The first is the fact that the rules as they are currently written are not transparent or workable.Our agricultural producers and exporters do not know exactly what information China requires themto provide. We are also concerned that the second license or safety certification that is required foreach shipment of biotechnology product into China is redundant. The first required safetycertification should be sufficient to warrant shipment to China.

Second, we are concerned that all trade in biotechnology products will be cut off after theMarch 20 implementation date. We firmly believe it is appropriate to have an extended (12-15month) implementation period for the new regulations, during which trade could resume andcontinue. This would allow regulators on both sides to work through the details, and for Chineseofficials to perform safety assessments on biotech crops currently planted in the United States. Thisinterim arrangement would be consistent with the approach taken by other WTO members whenimplementing regulatory regimes for trade in biotechnology products.

We know that China is committed to fulfilling its WTO obligations. Among these importantand binding obligations are those contained in the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement.Sanitary or phytosanitary rules address the balance between safety and trade standards, but theunderlying principle is that safety rules should not be used as disguised barriers to trade.I am sure you know that China and the United States have worked hard to resolve bilateraldifferences over market access for American wheat, pork, and citrus. We hope and expect that wecan do so in this instance.

We thank you for your immediate attention to this vitally important matter, and look forwardto your response.


Max Baucus 
Chuck Grassley