In 2009, the total import and export of agricultural products in China was 92.129 billion U.S. dollars, while in 2019, the total import and export of agricultural products in China has reached 230.068 billion U.S. dollars, and China has become the world’s largest importer of agricultural products, with the import amount accounting for more than 10% of the total global agricultural trade, and the trend is increasing year by year. As the most important producer and importer of agricultural products in the international market, China’s influence on the international agricultural market will become stronger and stronger.
At the time of rapid growth of China’s agricultural imports and exports, the trade structure of China’s agricultural products is also gradually changing, gradually developing in the direction of land-intensive agricultural imports and labor-intensive agricultural exports. This change of trade structure means that the trade structure of China’s agricultural products import and export is gradually optimized on the one hand, and on the other hand, because of the excessive concentration of exports, China’s agricultural products have been subjected to the most serious anti-dumping, countervailing and trade barriers. At the same time, the increasing import of agricultural products will also affect the problem of food security in China, and once the safety of agricultural products occurs, it will definitely affect the stability of the daily life of our residents.
Therefore, the optimization of the import and export trade structure of agricultural products is an urgent problem for China. The optimization of agricultural trade structure is not only related to the competitiveness of China’s agricultural products in the international market, but also related to the orderly development of the international agricultural market, the protection of domestic food security and social stability. Before optimizing the import and export trade structure of agricultural products, it is necessary to recognize the essence of trade structure optimization, that is, its connotation, in order to help discover the constraints in the optimization process, so as to put forward targeted optimization measures.
Connotation of the optimization of China’s agricultural import and export trade structure
The connotation of trade structure optimization, which can also be called the essence of trade structure optimization, is to provide services for the stable development of social economy. And the ultimate goal of optimization should be beneficial to the long-term stable growth of our economy, thus contributing to the stable development of society, so the connotation of trade structure optimization contains the following four points.
(1) Promote the optimal allocation of resources
Each country has its unique advantages, and the theory of comparative advantage points out that countries with absolute advantages should use more resources to produce goods with large advantages, while countries in absolute disadvantage should use resources to produce goods with small disadvantages, and exchange goods with international trade to gain comparative advantages. The theory of comparative advantage reflects the possibility of gain for the country, which can be achieved only through international trade. The trade structure reflects the proportion and position of each commodity in the country’s foreign trade over a period of time, and only when the trade structure matches the country’s comparative advantage, it is possible for the country to seek more benefits in international trade. Therefore, the optimization of China’s agricultural import and export trade structure can be built on the basis of China’s comparative advantage, increasing the export of agricultural products with abundant production factors and importing agricultural products with scarce production factors, so as to enhance the optimal allocation of China’s agricultural resources.
(2) Reduce trade friction
In recent years, due to the U.S. government’s violation of the world’s multilateral trade development trend and forcing other countries to implement unilateral trade, China has been subjected to more and more serious trade barriers. From the perspective of specific commodity attributes, the vast majority of these agricultural products are labor-intensive goods, and such goods are the advantages of China’s exports. The elasticity of demand for labor-intensive goods is usually relatively large, and the quantity of exports is also extremely vulnerable to price factors, making China’s agricultural products are easily replaced by products from other countries within the time of the investigation. China suffers from unreasonable trade barriers, on the one hand, because of the unsound international trade rules, the U.S. hegemony and other aspects, on the other hand, because China’s commodity exports are too concentrated, the trade structure is unreasonable and other reasons. Therefore, the optimization of the trade structure of China’s agricultural imports and exports can, to a certain extent, alleviate the current problems of over-concentration of exports and over-dependence on imports of some countries’ commodities.
(3) Promote the optimization of agricultural industry structure
The optimization of industrial structure is often affected by the trade structure, so before China’s industrial optimization of agriculture, it should first optimize the trade structure of agricultural products and invest more resources in deep processing agriculture and scientific and technological agriculture, so that the trade structure of agricultural products will be ahead of the industrial structure of agriculture, thus driving the optimization of the industrial structure of agriculture. By optimizing the proportional relationship between various agricultural sectors, production items and individual products, more resources are allocated to the production of labor-intensive agricultural products, especially those with high added value, so as to break the bottleneck of domestic demand for such agricultural products and make up for the current lack of resources invested in scientific and technological added agricultural products, thus contributing to the optimization of the agricultural import and export trade structure and promoting the optimization of the agricultural This is conducive to the optimization of the import and export trade structure of agricultural products and the optimization and adjustment of the industrial structure.
(4) Help to solve the food problem
China’s population has exceeded 1.4 billion, making it a large population country. How to ensure the food problem of more than 1.4 billion people in China will directly affect the stable development of China’s social economy. When optimizing the import and export trade structure of agricultural products, China should not only consider how to realize its own comparative advantage, so as to drive the manufacture and export of labor-intensive and high-efficiency economic agricultural products, and encourage the import of food crops with relatively scarce production factors, so as to achieve the optimal allocation of resources. At the same time, we should also ensure a certain level of food self-sufficiency through active policy-oriented role, and scientifically adjust the proportion of different kinds of agricultural products in trade, so as to ensure the safety and economic efficiency of China’s food production.
Factors affecting the optimization of China’s agricultural import and export trade structure
(1) Small scale of agricultural production
To optimize the trade structure of agricultural import and export, it is necessary to constantly carry out the dynamic adjustment of the stage of the task. The trade dynamics of a country’s economic development affects the way and purpose of optimizing its trade structure at different stages. In order to optimize the import and export trade structure of agricultural products, China should first analyze the advantages that China’s agricultural products have at this stage and make use of the advantages of existing production factors to optimize the allocation of resources, followed by the development in the direction of science and technology and technology. China’s current agricultural production is still dominated by small-scale production, the impact of this characteristic on the optimization of trade structure in the following two aspects.
First, small-scale production is difficult to form industrial clusters. China’s current form of agricultural production is still dominated by family-based production, this decentralized production model makes the transportation costs of agricultural products greatly increased. This small-scale agricultural production model on the one hand affects the aggregation of agricultural industries, on the other hand, affects the competitiveness of agricultural prices in the international market. Second, small-scale production hinders the accumulation of agricultural capital. The developmental inputs in agriculture often come from the state and agricultural producers, while small-scale family farmers have a relatively weak ability to resist risks and low economic strength. The lack of large amounts of capital investment in agricultural production will inevitably result in reduced benefits, which, together with the lack of financial support from government departments, leads to low motivation of individual farmers in agricultural production and affects the accumulation of capital.
(2) Backward concept of food security
Because of the general improvement of the residents’ daily life, the demand for food rations in China is decreasing, while the amount of food used in breeding, brewing and other deep processing industries is increasing significantly. However, the relevant domestic policies do not match the changes in social demand in a timely manner, resulting in large deviations in the domestic food supply and demand structure, making the net import of food is rigid growth, and the domestic food market is more susceptible to the influence of the international market. And in recent years by the influence of factors such as Sino-US trade frictions and large fluctuations in international energy prices, the price of food in the international market tends to be more volatile. This has led to unstable returns for farmers growing food, and has brought huge risks to the deep processing industry of agricultural products. This forces the government to tilt more fiscal spending toward agriculture, thus stabilizing the domestic food market.
(3) Lack of pricing power for agricultural products
Because of the low price elasticity of agricultural products, the pricing power of agricultural products is crucial for a country, and countries with the pricing power are often at the core of agricultural trade. The main reason for China’s lack of pricing power is the structure of China’s agricultural industry, especially the lack of control ability of the agricultural industry chain by most of the enterprises in China. When a large number of foreign investors enter China’s agricultural sector, their business scope will be extended to all aspects of the agricultural industry chain. On the one hand, foreign enterprises use the international market to manipulate food prices and increase the production and operation costs of local food processing enterprises in China; on the other hand, they use the advantages of capital and science and technology to compress the living space of domestic small and medium-sized enterprises and manipulate the upstream and downstream enterprises of food, thus leading to the loss of pricing power of agricultural products in China.
Suggestions for optimization of China’s agricultural import and export trade structure
(1) Improve the organization of production and management subjects
The improvement of organization of agricultural production and management subjects is conducive to optimizing the trade structure of China’s agricultural products import and export and enhancing the competitiveness of China’s agricultural products in the international market. On the one hand, it is possible to adopt the joint operation mode of enterprises and farmers, and integrate the scattered farmers into the integrated supply chain of production, processing and sales, so as to form a large-scale and professional production and operation mode; on the other hand, it is possible to encourage the capable farmers to take the lead to form joint farms with shares and establish a modern enterprise system, and through the capital of farmers’ contracted mountains, forests and farmlands, it is possible to improve the organization of agricultural production and management. On the other hand, we can encourage farmers with the ability to take the lead to form joint farms with shares, establish a modern enterprise system, and through the capital of farmers’ contracted mountains, forests and agricultural land into shares, so as to realize the large-scale development of fields, mountains, forests and waters, and eventually form a scale economy, and obtain more income, and then share dividends according to the shares of each farmer, the income obtained by each farmer is far greater than the income brought by decentralized operation.
(2) Cultivating a new concept of food security
Before optimizing the trade structure, it is necessary to change the current concept of food security and treat the self-sufficiency rate of food reasonably. Excessive pursuit of the self-sufficiency rate of food not only leads to high financial costs of food production, but also causes problems such as over-exploitation of land, which is not conducive to the long-term development of China’s agriculture. Therefore, the new concept of food security should make reasonable use of international markets and international resources to minimize the contradiction between the supply side and the demand side in domestic food production, while ensuring the basic policy of food production. In the international trade of agricultural products, China should also pay attention to prevent the excessive concentration of agricultural trade partners, so as to avoid the situation of being constrained by others, for example, we can take advantage of the opportunity of developing “One Belt and One Road” and sign multilateral trade agreements with the neighboring countries of “One Belt and One Road”. For example, we can make use of the opportunity of developing “One Belt and One Road” to sign multilateral trade agreements with neighboring countries of “One Belt and One Road” and establish trade cooperation with more countries, so as to spread out the trading partners of agricultural products as much as possible, thus spreading the food risk to the minimum.
(3) Optimize the quality of agricultural products
Improving the quality of domestic agricultural products, especially the quality of deep-processed agricultural products, is beneficial to the optimization of trade structure. Our government should play a leading role, give full play to the scientific research power of agricultural research institutes, and combine scientific research with production practice; increase the introduction of advanced agricultural technologies such as breeding and improvement of varieties; improve the current inspection system of agricultural products, increase the inspection of all aspects of agricultural production, ensure the quality of commodities in each link, and avoid the situation of sales return due to quality problems; establish an agricultural products Establish a quality evaluation system for agricultural products to evaluate the quality of agricultural products and eliminate those with poor quality.