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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

To the Peak of Asian Agriculture

After a satisfying breakfast in Guangzhou, we said goodbye to Sam Niu, from the U.S. Grains Council’s office in Beijing, before boarding the train for Hong Kong. We enjoyed the scenic two hour ride to Hong Kong, an administrative region of China.

Our first order of business in Hong Kong was meeting with Philip Shull of the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office and Joel Haggard with the U.S. Meat Export Federation. We discussed differences between the U.S. and Asia, specifically the importance of food in the Chinese language and culture. We also learned about agricultural trading opportunities that include opening up new export markets for the U.S. Digging deeper, we discussed red meat exports and why American beef is currently banned in China. The issue began in 2003 with a BSE scare. Even though there is no food safety concern with U.S. beef, it is still banned due in China. The ban on U.S. beef is partially a political decision due to the fact that the U.S. will not import cooked poultry from China.

But, don’t think that the Chinese don’t like U.S. beef. It has been noted that huge amounts of U.S. beef have recently been exported to Vietnam. This beef eventually makes its way across the Chinese border and restaurants in China can be seen advertising the fact that they serve U.S. beef. Hopefully, in the future trade agreements can be made so that U.S. beef can be exported directly into to China.

After our meeting, we took a tram up the steep mountainside to the top of “The Peak” which overlooks all of Hong Kong. We got a quick view of the harbor before the fog settled in. After some pictures, shopping and dinner, we took a bus down a winding road to a ferry. The ferry took us across the harbor and we walked back to our hotel.

We concluded the evening with a debriefing about the I-CAL program. We discussed all of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to Vietnamese and Chinese agriculture as well as America’s relationship with these countries. As I-CAL participants, we emphasized the importance of sharing our newly gained knowledge with others back at home. We can’t wait to share our new perspectives with you!

Kelly Moyer - Colorado State University
Brooke Jameson - North Dakota State University


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