A food safety factory shutdown has Americans hunting for baby formula. Readying themselves for a covid-19 lockdown, Chinese in Beijing emptied store shelves. Emerging from lockdown, some in Shanghai are visiting well-provisioned markets. U.S.-China agricultural trade is booming, but many are still being left hungry. Food security, sustainability and safety remain issues.
White House, U.S.-China Sign Grain Agreement, Oct. 22, 1980
October 22, 1980
Today, we signed, in Beijing, a grain agreement with the People's Republic of China which accomplishes two important things. First, it will promote the sale of U.S. grain to a large and growing market. Second, it will further the process of building a long-term structure for U.S.-China relations.
Under the terms of this agreement, China will purchase at least 6 million metric tons (MMT) of U.S. wheat and corn annually for a 4-year period beginning January 1, 1981. The Chinese may purchase up to 9 MMT without prior notice.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in January 1979, U.S. agricultural exports to China have expanded rapidly and will reach a record $2 billion in 1980. China is now
our most important customer for cotton and one of the most important for other farm products.
The agreement grew out of a dialogue dating back to Secretary Bob Bergland's visit to the People's Republic of China in 1978. It will provide important benefits for both U.S.
farmers and consumers. It will help to moderate the wide swing in grain prices that are often associated with annual fluctuations in agricultural exports. The agreement will also provide further stimulus to our dynamic agricultural export sector and contribute to our growing surplus in agricultural trade, which will reach $22 billion in 1980.
The President takes great personal pride in the fact that, in his Administration, he was able to take the difficult but enormously successful step of establishing full diplomatic
relations with China, the largest country in the world.
The establishment of diplomatic relations with China almost 2 years ago made it possible for us to move ahead to build a new relationship which truly enriches us in knowledge,
trade, and culture.
- Trade more than doubled from $1.1 billion in 1978 to $2.3 billion in 1979. This year we estimated it will almost double again to $4 billion.
- About 25 cultural and sports delegations from China visit our country every 6 months, and we are reciprocating with visits by orchestras and other cultural groups as well as our Olympic athletes.
- We have 13 separate working agreements in science and technology, which not only give us current and future commercial benefits but make it possible for our scientists and technicians to share in China's research in medicine, earthquake prediction, and agriculture.
Important as they are, there is more to our relationship than trade and cultural ties. We have also begun, carefully and deliberately, to build a consultative relationship which will enable us to work together to identify and cooperate on issues of common interest, such as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
This effort to construct a long-term strategic relationship is still new and, therefore, fragile. It is based on carefully written and painstakingly negotiated understandings set down in the joint communique establishing diplomatic relations between the United States and China. This Administration has consistently made clear its resolve to honor those understandings.
We have come a long way since that day almost 2 years ago when the President announced that we had reached agreement with the Chinese on the establishment of diplomatic relations. Thirty years of mutual isolation and hostility have been replaced with a deepening consultative relationship which is already contributing significantly to American security and to the peace and stability in East Asia and the world beyond.
Citation: Jimmy Carter: "United States-People's Republic of China Grain Agreement White House Statement. ," October 22, 1980. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=45361.