Chinese market alleviates EU agri-food crisis: European commissioner
Demand from China continues to drive European Union (EU) agri-food exports and in particular exports of pig meat which reached record high level this year, EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan said Friday.
"China is a growing market and Europe wants to be involved in this market," the EU official told Xinhua.
He is in Rotterdam attending a shipment of Dutch pig meat to China and the first shipment of Dutch veal meat to the United States.
Hogan noted that pig meat as a top EU export product to China has registered substantial increase in the Chinese market in 2016.
"The shipment of Dutch pig meat is another indication of the growing marketplace that China is offering to European farmers particularly this year," said Hogan.
Boosting agri-food exports to China and other parts in Asia has become top priority for the EU as the block seeks new markets to offset the loss of sales to Russia. Moscow banned EU food imports since August 2014 in response to Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.
According to Hogan, 80 percent of the total value of exports to Russia have already been replaced by EU exports to Asian markets.
EU pork exports in the first half 2016 have increased by 44 percent in volume and 39 percent in value compared to the same period last year. The Chinese mainland stands as the first outlet with an increase of 115 percent in volume, followed by Japan (+22 percent) and China's Hong Kong (+55 percent), according to figures released by the European Commission.
Hogan visited China twice this year as part of a series of trade missions to open up new markets. Later this year he will visit Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore with a delegation of European agri-business people. In 2017, he plans to go to Nigeria, Canada and again China.
"There are considerable opportunities for the European producers of agricultural products in China," the commissioner said, citing as most important factor the growing Chinese middle class.
EU figures put China as the second biggest agricultural export market for the EU. In 2015, the EU exported 10.3 billion euros (about 11.5 billion U.S. dollars) of agri-food to China, 39 percent up from previous year and representing 8 percent of all EU agri-exports.
As the EU's leading producer and the world's second largest agri-food products exporter, the Netherlands exported 186 tons of pork to China in the first eight months of this year, noted Dutch minister for Agriculture Martijn Van Dam.