A bipartisan group of 112 House lawmakers submitted a letter to the White House expressing concern about China’s progress in accelerating its approvals of biotech-enhanced events, and asking that President Obama raise the issue during the upcoming Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) later this month.
“China continues to be a very significant trading partner for U.S. agriculture,” the House members noted. “Paving a path forward through continued high-level engagement is essential to facilitate a more positive trade environment and relationship, including for products of agricultural biotechnology.”
The lawmakers’ concerns focused on recent amendments to China’s biotech regulatory regime that provide “less clarity and specificity around the approval process, rather than more transparency and accountability.” These changes conflict with commitments that China made in September 2015 and June 2016 regarding its regulatory process, said the lawmakers.
“Delayed approvals that limit access to innovative products and encumber trade only serve to undermine the progress made to date and significantly dampens innovation and trade affecting both the U.S. and Chinese economies,” their letter notes.
The letter also urges the administration to address these issues within the context of enhancing the overall U.S.-China trading relationship. The House members sought input from the NGFA and other groups in drafting the letter.
In February, three of 11 biotech products awaiting regulatory consideration by China were approved. But China has issued no approvals since that time, and the letter notes that the backlog continues to grow. There are now a total of 25 biotech products in the regulatory queue in China, including eight in the final stage. Four of these products have been under review since mid-2011.
In conclusion, the lawmakers asked the White House to engage its Chinese counterparts in preparation for the JCCT and to place added focus on transitioning China’s commitments into “positive action.”