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National strategy is crucial for successful agri-food relationship with China

Gepubliceerd op
27 november 2014

It is very important that the business community, research institutes and the government work as a strong unit within the Top Sector Agriculture & Food and the Top Sector Horticulture & Propagating Materials in order to continue to develop a far-reaching agri-food strategy with respect to China. These are the views of The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS) and LEI Wageningen UR. The Dutch agri-food sector can improve its market position in China by profiling itself as a sustainable partner in the field of food security and safety.

An initial exploration reveals a good match between the strengths of the Netherlands and the Chinese demand for technology, knowledge and products in numerous elements of the food chain, varying from imports to logistics, particularly for vegetables, potatoes, dairy products, and meat from intensive livestock farming.

Opportunities and risks in the Chinese market necessitate a more strategic agri-food policy

China is coming under extreme pressure to satisfy the growing demand for high-quality, safe food for the growing middle class with high incomes. Food security and the assurance of food quality and safety are necessary for socio-political stability, and are therefore a top priority for the Chinese government. This presents opportunities for the Dutch Top Sectors, which are in a position to contribute to the more diversified and sustainable provision of food of reliable quality in China through exports of products and knowledge.

The considerable risks for Dutch companies active in China are a point for attention. These vary from there being no level playing field with regard to Chinese state-owned enterprises, to poorly-protected plant breeders' rights and intellectual property rights, to unfavourable regulations and other barriers to the market. There are also other foreign competitors who want to profit from the growing Chinese market. These opportunities and risks require parties in the Top Sector Agriculture & Food and the Top Sector Horticulture & Propagating Materials to join forces in developing a more strategic vision of cooperation with China in the agri-food domain.

Linking up with current and future Chinese agri-food challenges

In recent years, the parties in the Top Sectors have made great efforts in close cooperation with each other, and developed initiatives aimed at making good use of the opportunities for the Netherlands in agri-food in China. The development of a national agri-food strategy with respect to China can help to reinforce the synergy between the various activities, prevent fragmentation, guarantee the continuity of successful initiatives and anticipate new opportunities and threats. The researchers recommend basing the joint strategy on the principle of reciprocity, whereby the parties in the Dutch Top Sectors formulate an attractive proposition for China that links up well with the current and future Chinese priorities and challenges in with regard to agri-food.

Strategic prospects for action for the Dutch government

The HCSS and LEI have today published the report entitled 'Harvesting Golden Opportunities for the Dutch Agri-Food Sector in China'. The report sets out how the government, research institutes, and the business community can use reciprocity to make optimum use of the opportunities for the Top Sectors and to avoid the risks involved. This study was commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.