Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon. Jeremiah Manele received a courtesy visit from His Excellency Duan Chunhua, Deputy Chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and Member of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and delegation yesterday (14th December 2023).
The purpose of the visit by the NPC to the Solomon Islands is to enhance connections with the National Parliament of Solomon Islands, explore cooperation in agriculture and rural development with Solomon Islands counterparts, and deepen mutual understanding and friendship between Solomon Islands and the People’s Republic of China.
In receiving the delegation, Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon. Jeremiah Manele welcomed H.E. Duan Chunhua and delegation to Solomon Islands further reinforce both countries partnership in mutual areas of interest and cooperation.
Minister Manele acknowledged the delegation’s intention to explore cooperation in agriculture as it is the foundation of people’s livelihoods in Solomon Islands, although only accounting for 16 per cent of the country’s GDP.
He said Solomon Islands can venture into cooperation that could raise the agricultural sector’s contribution to GDP and reduce dependency on rice imports by building on local rice production capacity.
Minister Manele also highlights the importance of trade for Solomon Islands and acknowledge the non –reciprocal trade agreement that Solomon Islands have with China as a Least Developed country to provide quota free, duty free market access for its products.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade also mentioned the Solomon Islands readiness to commence exporting of Baked or Roasted Cocoa and Coffee, Copra Oil cakes, Noni Juice and Timber sawn.
“We are also eager to expand this access to other agricultural products and request China’s assistance and support.
Minister Manele then affirmed the Solomon Islands commitment to the one-China principle and its readiness to keep closer high-level exchanges with China, strengthen exchanges and cooperation in trade, investment, people-to-people and cultural exchanges and localities, among other fields, jointly tackle climate change and other global challenges, and continuously push forward the comprehensive strategic partnership between Solomon Islands and China.
In response, H.E. Duan Chunhua said since the forging of diplomatic ties four years ago, our relationship has achieved fruitful results.
He said China is a big country and agriculture is an important as it contributes to a high proportion of its GDP.
H.E. Duan Chunhua expressed his willingness to promote the areas highlighted by Minister Manele and will liaise with the Rural and Agriculture Ministries in China to see expansion in other areas of cooperation.