MEXICO CITY, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Mexican officials agree that it is high time to bolster agricultural trade ties with China, as the country needs to diversify its trade, given the uncertainty of its relationship with its northern neighbor.
"Opening and strengthening the channels of trade with powers such as China is very important for us," and so is "not relying on a single trade relationship," Federal Deputy Cristina Gaytan Hernandez told Xinhua.
Hernandez, a member of the opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party, urged producers and business owners from Mexico and China to forge closer ties, especially in the agricultural sector, which offers "great" potential.
The only thing missing is to foster "friendship, trust and respect so that in the field of trade our countries can find great economic advantages for their communities and for the comprehensive development of both nations," said Hernandez.
Agricultural trade with China continues to center on soybean, but as China's economy expands, so does the purchasing power of its urban middle class with accompanying changes in lifestyle and consumption, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Hernandez's remarks were echoed by Adriana Herrera Moreno, director of international trade negotiations at the Ministry of Agriculture, who emphasized the importance to "talk about increasing trade and creating opportunities for China and for Mexico."
"Agriculture is one of the sectors that would win (from expanded trade ties), because China offers a growing market that demands products that Mexico can supply, such as meats, fruit and high value-added products that offer our producers opportunities to diversify their incomes," said Moreno.
Though Mexico has no trade agreement with China in the area of agricultural commodity, it is working to meet China's phytosanitary requirements with an eye to opening the Asian market to Mexican-made produce.
"We will continue to work hard to strengthen our sanitary protocols towards China, and that is important because it provides us with the guidelines to be able to export and create real market opportunities" for the national industry, said Moreno.
The ministry is also committed to investing in promoting any new export products in the Chinese market, as it has with tequila and avocados, she said.
Mexico's China-bound agricultural exports mainly consist of cotton, beer, tequila, pork, avocados, cranberries, raspberries and blue berries.
Mexico City's Secretary of Labor Amalia Garcia Medina admits that bilateral trade with China is currently minuscule, offering great potential.
"Trade exchange is still very small. The agricultural figures ... can still grow enormously. That is to say, the potential to expand it is great and that is why the opportunity exists," said Medina.
What's more, Mexico's government has shown its willingness "to strengthen trade ties with China," in mind of its current over-reliance on its northern neighbor, according to Medina.
"A substantial portion of Mexico's trade is with the United States. If it does not diversify, it will weaken our country because any political flux in the country with which we have the largest part of trade, has an impact on us," she said.
"The positive side of our current situation is the possibility of opening up trade exchange and building substantial ties with China," said Medina, a leading voice of the Mexican left.
According to official figures, 80 percent of Mexico's agricultural exports go to the United States and Canada.
However, geographic convenience is no longer enough to sustain the country's trade ties, said Sergio Palacios, head administrator at Mexico City's Central de Abastos, Latin America's largest wholesale market of produce and foodstuffs.
"China and its provinces represent important markets where Mexico must consolidate its presence," said Palacios, adding that Mexico can offer the Asian market "many high-quality products."
To expand bilateral ties, it is essential for Chinese trade delegations "to come to Mexico more often and for Mexican delegations to go to China and learn what the opportunities are. I think they are two nations that, despite distance, have much in common and share a great friendship," added Palacios.
Earlier this week, Mexico's Chamber of Deputies hosted a bilateral agricultural exchange and cooperation forum between Mexico City and the southwestern province of Sichuan to strengthen trade between the two regions, the very first of many such encounters.