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28 FEB 2014

Conference on sustainable Chinese outward foreign direct investment in agriculture opens in Beijing

A conference on sustainable Chinese overseas foreign direct investment (OFDI) in agriculture organised by the Research Centre for Rural Economy, a think-tank of the China’s Ministry of Agriculture, with support from Oxfam recently took place in Beijing. More than 80 people attended. Among those present were officials from the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture. Experts from think tanks, researchers from universities and journalists also participated, as did representatives from chambers of commerce, Chinese companies, and local and foreign non-governmental organisations.

Investing in agriculture in other countries is a key component of China’s “going out” policy. Beijing stated the need to implement strategies promoting the country’s OFDI in agriculture at a faster pace on 19 January in its No. 1 Central Document – a policy statement that the Communist Party’s Central Committee and the State Council issue every year. The document stressed collaborations in agricultural production and agricultural trade with neighbouring countries that would be mutually beneficial.

To complement the policy goals set out in the No. 1 Central Document and the government’s “going out” strategy, experts, researchers and other stakeholders were invited to the conference to discuss questions including how businesses can be encouraged to improve the way they invest abroad. They also spoke about how to ensure such investments were sustainable and beneficial to both China and the host countries.

Song Hongyuan, Director of the Research Centre for Rural Economy under the Ministry of Agriculture, discussed the report, titled “Chinese agricultural outward foreign direct investment”, at the conference. He spoke about the unique aspects of Chinese OFDI in agriculture, policy developments on this front, and how Mainland companies engaged in such investments. He also discussed the challenges involved and made policy recommendations. The report attracted substantial interest from delegates at the conference as well as comments from officials, businesses and other groups. It looks at Chinese OFDI in agriculture and from the points of view of the government, businesses and the public. It explores the impact that it has on the host country’s economy and society and ways of promoting a dialogue on sustainable investment models.

During a round on case studies, three experts – Li Tao, Fang Yun, and Liu Haifang – discussed OFDI in Myanmar’s, Laos’ and Zambia’s agricultural sectors and recent developments. They also spoke with delegates about the opportunities and challenges that OFDI in agriculture brings to the countries, both socially and economically. Li is an associate professor of South East Asia Research Centre at Yunnan University’s Institute of International Studies, while Fang is a researcher from the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences and Liu is a professor at Peking University’s Center for African Studies.

After the conference, the research centre will revise the report based on opinions that it has gathered from delegates. It will publish the report soon.

About the Research Centre for Rural Economy

The Research Centre for Rural Economy, which is a think-tank of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture, conducts policy studies. Its key responsibilities include formulating rural economic policy and rural development strategies, and conducting research and making recommendations on policies to improve the rural economic system.

About Oxfam
Oxfam is a world-wide development organization that mobilizes the power of people against poverty.