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    ITC-China Partnership Evolves


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2006

    © ITC/X. Jiang

    China is expanding its cooperation with ITC and with developing countries.

    China's Vice Minister of Commerce, Yi Xiaozhun, met with ITC's Executive Director, Patricia Francis, in November 2006 to explore cooperation to reduce poverty in rural China and support China's growing trade and investment ties to Africa.

    The discussions came in the wake of the November summit on China-Africa Economic Cooperation. It was the largest-ever gathering of its kind, with 47 African heads of state in Beijing. Chinese trade, investment and aid to Africa are growing fast. China plans to double its assistance to Africa by 2009 and open its markets further to least developed countries.

    Fruitful Cooperation with Shaanxi Province

    Three years ago, most apple farmers and exporters in Tongchuan City, Shaanxi Province of China had not heard about EurepGAP standards. The standards concern food quality, protection of the environment and workers' health and safety. Meeting these standards is an essential market requirement for exporting to European supermarkets and helps maintain consumer confidence in products.

    Patricia Francis visits a newly-accredited orchard.
    © ITC/X. Jiang

    In 2005, five orchards, owned by 66 farming households in Tongchuan, were certified with EurepGAP accreditation by SGS, the international certification body. The average output of apples increased by 50% and the average percentage of high-quality apples reached 65%, compared to 30% in 2003.

    Thousands of farmers in Tongchuan City have been lifted out of poverty thanks to the substantial increase in the yield and quality of apples. An ITC pilot project to develop an export-oriented apple industry in Tongchuan City, financed by the Government of China, contributed to this remarkable achievement.

    "The orchards assisted by the project have set an excellent example for complying with international standards and for export-led poverty reduction in the province," said Patricia Francis, ITC's Executive Director, in an interview with Shaanxi TV station on the occasion of her recent visit to the province. Farmers from other orchards came to learn from the ones directly assisted, leading to around 6,200 farmers being trained.

    ITC's assistance included the development of a strategy to increase the yield and quality of fresh apples, and exposure to key markets in Europe. It provided practical advice and training on all aspects of production, such as planting, fertilizing, pruning and complying with EurepGAP standards.

    For more information, contact Xuejun Jiang, atjiang@intracen.org

    African Cotton Exports

    ITC is working with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce to help African cotton growers gain a foothold in the Chinese market. In September, they jointly organized a 17-day training programme in Beijing and in Xinjiang Province, a major cotton processing area. Participating were 26 African cotton producers and government officials from Benin, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Mali and Togo.

    African and Chinese participants alike were very positive about the programme. It helped West African suppliers understand market requirements of the biggest cotton producing, consuming and importing country in the world and helped Chinese buyers get a clearer idea of the quality and potential of West African cotton. The demand for cotton outstrips Chinese supply by 4.6 million tonnes.

    For more information, contact Matthias Knappe, atknappe@intracen.org