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Mon, 19 Jan, 2015 01:28:33 PM
FTimes-Xinhua Report, Jan 19

The 80th International Green Week, a leading global agriculture fair, opened to visitors in Berlin on Friday, attracting thousands of traders looking for business opportunities at a time when the overall economy was not satisfying.

     The trade fair, which dated back to 1926 and claimed to be the largest exhibition for agriculture, food industry and horticulture, attracted a total of 1,658 exhibitors from 68 countries and regions this year.

     The organizer said it attracted a record number of exhibitors in 44 years, nearly 40 percent of them came from abroad.

     From Friday to Jan. 25, some 400,000 visitors would be able to experience a diversity of food items, animals, flowers and other specialties from around the world at a display area covering 130,000 square meters.

      

For trade visitors, especially those from Europe where economic situation was yet to improve, the fair would be a chance for them to find new opportunities.

        "This year Germany's farming industry faces big challenges. Good harvests and a weakening economy have resulted in the markets for farming produce coming under pressure in many parts," said German Farmers' Union President Joachim Rukwied.

        Data from German Food and Drink Industries showed that sales in German food industry fell slightly by 0.9 percent in price-adjusted terms in 2014 due to fierce competitions on international markets, stagnating retail prices, high cost and weak export business. Both the number of businesses and jobs in the industry decreased in Germany.

     "The economic sanctions against Russia have made things worse," Rukwied said.

       In August 2014, Russia launched an imports ban on most food products from the United States and Europe as a response to the West's sanctions.

     The ban, which would last for one year, was expected to hit Germany the hardest as it was the biggest food exporting country in the EU for Russia with an exporting volume of 1.6 billion euros (about 1.8 billion U.S. dollars) in 2013.

       From the whole EU, Russia imported food products worth 11.8 billion euros in 2013. Analysts said the tit-for-tat sanctions had forced European countries to intensify competitions for new markets.

     In a speech at the opening ceremony of International Green Week on Thursday night, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said he hoped the agricultural and food sector could play "a similarly crucial role" in economic recovery for the whole Europe as the sector did in his mother country Ireland.

     The commissioner also said he would set the reduction of administrative burden on farmers and simplification as "a top priority" for his work program in 2015.

 

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