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China, US to Station Food and Drug Inspection Offices Each Other

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will open three offices in China this week to help ensure export safety while China is preparing to place offices in the US as well.

The first FDA office in Beijing will be opened on Wednesday, followed by one in Guangzhou and Shanghai, according to Mike Leavitt, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of the United States.

Addressing a joint press conference with Mike Leavitt here Tuesday, China's Health Minister Chen Zhu said China is also preparing to place offices in the US although no date, location or specific number was given.

"It shows the new trend of deepened cooperation on food safety between our two countries," Chen said.

Chen said this move would actually help inspection agencies and businesses of both countries to have more interaction and would provide both countries with an opportunity to learn from each other.

"The food safety cooperation between China and the US can only be strengthened not be weakened," Chen said.

"We need to globalize the mission of the Food and Drug Administration in the United States because its task now is not domestic but international," Leavitt said.

The US will import nearly US$2 trillion of goods this year from all over the world. That is roughly four times of the entire economy of Brazil.

"The volume of those goods has become so robust that it requires us to change our strategy," Leavitt said, "We have to build quality into every product at every step of the process."

Leavitt said the US FDA would also open two offices in India next month. In January it would open two offices in Latin America with others to follow.

Leavitt said the new FDA offices will help increase inspections and help the host country improve its own food and drug safety.

(Xinhua News Agency November 19, 2008)

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