Chinese vice premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Spain resulted in a $7.5 billion trade agreement that includes a nine million dollar purchase of Spanish olive oil stock. The two countries, which have forged diplomatic ties over the past few decades, formalized government agreements and commercial contracts for 16 sectors.
According to a report from China’s state-run Xinhua news agency, the agreements include the olive oil purchase in addition to $13.5 million in meat products, $6 million in wine and $260,000 of Spain’s famed cured Iberico ham.
The vice premier, who met with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez and King Juan Carlos, said that he plans to feast on Spanish products during the Chinese Spring Festival which starts on February 3. According to the Xinhua report, Li said that China and Spain would work closely together and take joint measures to face various risks and challenges.
“China… has confidence and great interest in the Spanish market,” Li said on the second day of his European Union tour. He added that Spanish products are popular among Chinese consumers. In fact, the country is set to host its seventh International olive oil exhibition in Shanghai this year.
China imports 60,000 tons of olive oil every year. However, olive oil still lags behind in popularity against cheaper options such as peanut oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil. Chinese consumers prefer extra virgin olive oil, and Spain provides about half of the stock that fits this category. The other half of the extra virgin olive oil market is divided among competitors including Italy and Greece.
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China’s biggest cities such as Beijing and Shanghai account for a large part of the country’s market for imported olive oil. Italy and Greece still hold a big chunk of the market share in China. Spain, however, the largest olive oil producing
country in the world, has exhibited continuous growth over the past few years.