The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is exploring whether to allow farmers in China to grow rice and other agricultural products, including livestock, to meet growing demand from the growing population in the region, the Associated Press has learned.
The announcement follows an announcement in April by US President Donald Trump that the US would allow Chinese farmers to grow crops in the US.
The move comes as the US and China are negotiating a trade deal which could see China buy US wheat, corn and soybeans, which are heavily used by the US agricultural industry.
In return, China would supply grain to the US market.
The US currently imports 70 per cent of its food, mainly from China, but the country has been struggling to grow its own food supply.
The Chinese government has also been looking to improve its food security and improve its agricultural production.
The agriculture department’s Agricultural Reform Advisory Committee (ARCAC) is working on how the US should set up a bilateral trade relationship with China, according to an ARCAC statement.
The group is also looking at whether to establish a joint agricultural production and export authority, which would be responsible for promoting US agricultural exports to China.
“The United States has a long-standing relationship with the People’s Republic of China and the two nations have enjoyed good agricultural relations over the past 40 years,” the statement said.
“It is a good idea to build a partnership between the US government and the People of China to promote economic and trade relations between the two countries.”
The ARCAC said it would hold a hearing on the subject on Wednesday, March 28.
Agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue has previously said that the Trump administration was open to the idea of exporting agricultural products to China, which the US imports 60 per cent.
“If the president wants to get a lot of products from China in terms of feed, water, fertilizer, and everything else, we would be open to that,” Mr Perdue told reporters in January.
US officials say that although it would not be a direct trade deal, it would give the US a leg up on China in the global food supply chain, which has been dominated by China for decades.
In 2016, US President Trump said that he would like to see the US import rice from China and soy from China.
Chinese officials have dismissed such claims, and said they would not allow US companies to enter into any deal with China over agriculture.
“We will never allow a single US company to enter the market for food production in the country,” Li Baodong, an adviser to the Chinese president, said at a meeting with US senators in May.
“I have no interest in any kind of trade agreements with anyone, and that includes the United States.”