In a move that is sure to have global impact, the European Union signed a plan to cooperate in agriculture with China on June 11, 2012. The EU tied with the US in 2011 as the world's largest farm-product exporter and China is the world's largest consumer of grains and cotton.
The plan will be focused on addressing issues such as food security and the environment while promoting trade relations and sustainability. The accord was signed in Beijing by China's Minister of Agriculture - Han Changfu and EU Agriculture Commissioner - Dacian Ciolos. Ciolos was quoted on the EU Agriculture Commission's website as saying, "Agriculture is of crucial interest for both China and the European Union. This cooperation plan is a new step in our commitment to work together to address common challenges -- in particular food security, rural development, food safety and climate change."
The EU exported a record 105 billion euros ($132.7 billion) in 2011 and equaled agricultural shipments from the US. China and Hong Kong currently represent the EU's third-largest agricultural import market with shipments at almost 2.5 billion euros in 2011.
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