China will deepen reforms of its agriculture sector to promote its rural economy, the government said in its first policy statement of 2019, as it seeks to bolster growth and offset trade challenges.
Beijing's statement, released late on Tuesday, comes after the world's second-largest economy saw its weakest growth in 28 years in 2018 and remains entangled in a trade war with Washington.
“Under the complicated situation of increasing downward pressure on the economy and profound changes in the external environment, it is of special importance to do a good job in agriculture and rural areas,” the government said in the document issued by the State Council and published by official news agency Xinhua.
Known as the “No. 1 document”, this year's policy reiterated a rural rejuvenation strategy first laid out in 2017 to improve income levels and living standards in China's countryside.
It also highlighted a plan to boost domestic soybean production but did not offer further details. Industry analysts said on Wednesday they were eagerly awaiting further details to assess the impact of the plan, which had already been flagged by Agriculture Minister Han Changfu earlier this month.
China has been overhauling its crop structure in recent years, reducing support for corn after stocks ballooned, and seeking to promote more planting of oilseeds that it mostly imports.
That goal has become increasingly important since a trade war with the United States, which led China to slap tariffs on soybean imports, tightening domestic supplies.
Han has previously urged authorities in China's northeast to support soybean production through subsidies and called for rotating of soybeans with other crops including corn and wheat.