Food autonomy threatened by Chinese investments and needs

crise agricole

One of the symptoms of the complete opening up of the market by the Commission that poses a threat to European food security is the acquisition of agricultural land by foreign investors, particularly Chinese investors. Indeed, the investments of the Middle Kingdom in foreign agricultural lands have jumped up in recent years. They totalled at least $94 billion between 2010 and 2017, almost half of them in the last two years, and more than half in Europe, according to a barometer from two American associations, the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation.[1] Between 2014 and 2016, Reward Group, a Chinese conglomerate present in agribusiness, chemicals, real estate and hotels, acquired 1700 hectares of wheat land in the Indre area of France. At the end of 2017, they continued their investments with 900 hectares in the Allier, a diversification of investments after having invested heavily in French vineyards, where they own 143 chateaus. Although President Emmanuel Macron has spoken of ‘regulatory locks’, these investments, if they were to expand, represent a direct threat to European food security and autonomy.[2]

fig1d

Fig 1: Chinese direct overseas investment in agriculture, forestry and fishing. Left: Amounts 2003-2016. Right: Situation by country. Source: USDA

What guarantee will the Member States and the European institutions be able to provide to their consuming citizens when they no longer own their arable land? There is a real risk that Europe will become the orchard of China. This country of almost a billion and a half people has little agricultural land, despite its area of ​​nine and a half million square kilometres. By no means is this type of investment a coincidence, therefore. It is far from impossible that, in the long term, these new landowners will allocate the fruit of their harvest primarily to China and not to the European continent. Consumers on the old continent would then be condemned to ‘take what remains’ or resort to imports, despite the production on their continent.[3] And finally, does the EU intend to support this kind of exploitation by subsidising agricultural land when its production and marketing are directed outside EU territory? This is a question faced by Donald Trump, the US president, who believes that the CAP subsidies to farmers in Europe are contrary to the rules of the WTO, particularly with respect to products for export, whose low prices are maintained by the game of the CAP.[4] …

Read the entire report from the bulletin GEAB 126: Europe 2019-2024. From an agricultural crisis to a food crisis

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[1]    $56.57 billion acquisition in the agricultural sector mainly in Spain, France, Great Britain and the Netherlands. Source: China Global Investment Tracker. See also: ‘China, voracious buyer of foreign agricultural land’. Source: The Express, 25/02/2018
[2]    Source: L’Expansion, 23/03/2018, The Telegraph, 22/02/2018
[3]    See Arte : ‘China kauft Land, Frankreich ist besorgt’ 13/06/2016
[4]    In a dispute with Spain over imported black olives in the United States. Source: El Confidencial, 12/06/2018