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US to send strongest-ever delegation to China International Import Expo amid improving ties


Jul 2, 2014
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South China Morning Post
Tue, October 31, 2023 at 4:30 PM GMT+7·3 min read

Amid improving relations between Beijing and Washington, the United States is expected to send its strongest-ever delegation to next week's China International Import Expo (CIIE), according to sources with knowledge of the issue.
Jason Hafemeister, acting deputy undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs and trade counsel to the agriculture secretary at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), will be among the federal officials attending the six-day event, which begins in Shanghai on Sunday.
Hafemeister will be joined by Wade Sheppard, the USDA's senior adviser for North Asia.
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It would mark the first time such high-level US officials would attend the expo, which is widely used by Beijing to highlight its consumer market and fight against decoupling efforts, with the event previously attended by individual firms, trade organisations and regional officials.
The US Heartland China Association, a bipartisan advocacy group, will also send a group of mayors from 20 inland US states to explore trade opportunities, the sources added.
The delegation follows a string of recent visits by US federal and state politicians, and also raises the possibility of an in-person meeting between President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in San Francisco in mid-November.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also met Biden, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Washington last week, while Xi met California Governor Gavin Newsom in Beijing.
The USDA has confirmed it would lead a group of 17 exhibitors for the Shanghai expo, where a US agricultural product pavilion will be unveiled.
Co-hosted by the USDA and the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Shanghai, the pavilion will showcase agricultural produce and technology from the US states of California, Idaho and Georgia.
Members of the US Meat Export Federation, the US Poultry and Egg Export Council, USA Rice Federation and the Cranberry Marketing Committee, among others, will also attend.
"As the first official US pavilion in CIIE history ... [it] will showcase the strength of American products and highlight the rich agricultural trade between the US and China," said Eric Zheng, president of AmCham Shanghai.
Agriculture has remained a bright spot for US-China relations despite the trade war, which was started by the Trump administration in 2018.
US agriculture products featured predominantly in the phase-one trade deal signed at the start of 2020, which saw China pledge to buy an additional US$200 billion worth of goods and services over 2020-21, relative to 2017's levels.
The USDA said in a report earlier this year that agricultural exports to China reached a record US$36.4 billion in the 2022 financial year, with China "on track" to be the leading destination for US agricultural commodities for a third consecutive year.
Beijing has a tradition of boosting its imports from the US to set an amicable tone and mend ties with Washington.
On Tuesday, an editorial by the Communist Party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, hailed the recent uptick in ties and urged more efforts to stabilise the relationship and return it to the track of healthy and stable development.
Organisers expect more than 2,000 exhibitors from 100 countries and regions to attend the sixth edition of the China International Import Expo, with a total exhibition area of 360,000 square metres (3.9 million sq ft).
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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