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China: Investing in Future Trade

By Marlys Miller , Pork Magazine - Barriers are breaking down in China, at least on the economic side. While the political scene remains rooted in communism, the country’s leaders have seen the benefits of a more hands-off approach to commerce.
calendar icon 7 March 2003
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Take me to Pork Magazine The move toward a decentralized economy began in 1978. Since then, China’s output has quadrupled. At $4.5 trillion, the country has the world’s second largest gross domestic product, and an economy that’s growing around 8 percent annually. Granted, the per capita GDP is still a meager $838, but the future points to growth.

The Chinese government likes the idea of increasing foreign trade and investments. Most other countries – especially those with agricultural goods – are drooling after China’s 1.3 billion people. Capturing just 10 percent of those consumers is more than the 120 million that Japan has to offer, and nearly half the size of the U.S. population.

All of that spells opportunity for U.S. pork exports. Of course, advancements won’t come on a silver platter, just maintaining market share is a challenge in China’s somewhat fickle business climate. Differences in language and culture alone are enough to temper the pace of progress. Complicating matters are elements like the gray channel trade (see sidebar), ever-changing business parties and some questionable labeling, permitting and inspection processes.

But, with China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in January 2001, new doors have and will open. Many of the irregularities of doing business in China should disappear. “It will improve the competitiveness of imports and regulatory transparency,” notes Joel Haggard, U.S. Meat Export Federation vice president Asia.

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(March 2003)