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McCaskill urges Obama to push China on agricultural trade

File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

“Trade is a two-way street.” That’s the message U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., wants President Barack Obama to deliver to Chinese President Xi Jinping, when the two men meet this week in Washington. Xi begins an official state visit here Friday.

“Missouri farmers have to be able to sell our products in China on a level playing field and right now they’re being treated unfairly,” McCaskill told St. Louis Public Radio.

In 2014, China purchased $16.2 billion in biotech agricultural products, according to McCakill’s office, but the senator says that since then approval of new products has slowed sharply despite commitments from a China for a smoother review process.

“It has been anything but, it’s been murky, it’s been confusing, many times (it’s) just silent, no action whatsoever,” McCaskill continued. “It’s time the president use his position to push China to the right place.”

McCaskill is urging Obama to seek a commitment from Xi to move forward with approval for several biotechnology products, including those awaiting final approvals. McCaskill says the slowdown in China’s regulatory process is preventing continued growth in the industry.

In recent weeks, McCaskill has spent a significant about of time emphasizing the importance of promoting Missouri agricultural products. During the month-long congressional break in August, McCaskill conducted a 13-stop tour of sites important to the state’s agricultural industry. “It means jobs for Missourians and a growing economy.”

Xi is scheduled to arrive in Washington Thursday, with formal greetings and meetings at the White House taking place Friday. Among other issues to be discussed according to published reports, are Obama’s anger over recent cyberattacks traced to China and growing concern over China’s claim to disputed islands in the South China sea. China is also building concrete islands in the area to expand its control over waters there.

Obama will also host an official state dinner at the White House.

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