A second Estonia-China agricultural cooperation working group meeting was held on 24 September 2019. The working group discussed the opportunities for enhancing cooperation in agricultural trade, as well as in research and technology between universities and institutes.
The meeting was chaired by Mr Siim Tiidemann, Deputy Secretary General for Fisheries Policy and Foreign Affairs of the Ministry of Rural Affairs of Estonia, and Mr Wu Hongyao, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Peoples Republic of China.
In recent year, several high-level meetings have been held between Estonian and Chinese ministers of agriculture. For example, Estonia took part of the first Chinese import exhibition in November 2018 with enterprises from the food and drinks sector, who had an opportunity to meet and sign agreements with Chinese importers and local partners. Agriculture is also a part of China’s opening-up policy and Vice Minister Wu assured that there is an increased demand for high-quality agricultural products from Estonia. With that in mind, special efforts should be made by parties to develop e-commerce for agricultural products.
A meeting of the prime ministers of China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) was held in Dubrovnik this year with the Minister of Rural Affairs of Estonia also taking part. According to the guidelines that were agreed upon during the meeting, 2020 will be the Year of Agricultural Diversity Cooperation, which should provide additional incentives for the initiation of bilateral cooperation projects. During the working group meeting, Vice Minister Wu acknowledged Estonia’s participation and support for the cooperation format between China and CEEC, and stressed that this cooperation is a part of the EU-China strategic partnership and should work in synergy with it.
Scientific cooperation was another important topic of discussion for the working group as both parties talked about finding ways of reaching specific cooperation projects in the field. Currently, the Estonian Crop Research Institute and the Liaoning Academy of Agricultural Sciences have established a joint potato-growing laboratory. Estonian University of Life Sciences has signed bilateral cooperation agreement with China North-East Agricultural University in Harbin to develop more cooperation projects, for example in the field of horticulture, plant valorisation and development of value-added products.
During the meeting, the working group also agreed to exchange experiences and learn from each other in the format of visits, study tours and short-term personnel exchange. This should enhance communication and information exchange between the two countries and provide opportunities for cooperation in the future.
The next working group meeting will be held in China in 2021 to assess intermediate developments and agree upon further activities.