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Office of Governor Gary Locke
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Locke praises China's decision on Washington wheat

OLYMPIA – Gov. Gary Locke today hailed the announcement that China has agreed to eliminate certain restrictions on imports of wheat from Washington and other Northwest states.

The restrictions were related to China's concerns about TCK smut, a fungus present in some wheat. Under the new agreement, China accepted a tolerance level based on a new study of TCK smut levels.

"Washington wheat farmers are hurting," Locke said. "This agreement is the kind of news our wheat farmers have been waiting for."

When Locke visited China in October 1997, he met personally with President Jiang Zemin and asked him to lower barriers to Northwest wheat.

The Chinese government has banned grain exports from the Pacific Northwest for 27 years because of their concern about TCK smut.

China is hoping to be admitted into the World Trade Organization, which will hold its next Ministerial Meeting in Seattle in late November. Agricultural exports will be the major topic of discussion at the meeting, which will be the largest trade meeting ever held in the United States.

The agreement to accept Northwest wheat was seen as a positive step by China, but other tariff and quota issues remain to be worked out before admission to the WTO.

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