China has agreed to evaluate eight pending US agricultural biotechnology product applications by the end of May in the aftermath of a meeting with US and Chinese Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping.

According to the agreement, China’s National Biosafety Committee (NBC) was to “conduct science-based evaluations” of the pending applications “to assess the safety of the products for their intended use”, a US Department of Commerce statement on 11 May read.

The terms of the deal prohibited China from requesting any “additional information unrelated to safety assessment for intended use” from the applicants, and should any application be disqualified, China had to provide a complete list of information necessary to complete the assessment.

The agreement could potentially open the door for US companies such as Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer, Monsanto and Syngenta to enter the Chinese market, Chemical & Engineering News reported on 18 May.

Dow was seeking approval for its genetically modified (GM) corn and soyabean seeds, while Syngenta and DuPont were aiming to export their GM corn varieties to China.

Monsanto had submitted four of the pending applications, including herbicide-tolerant corn and soyabeans, and two alfalfa varieties.

US officials had been lobbying for China to speed up its lengthy approval processes for GM crops for several years, as it had typically taken China six years to grant clearance, which was twice as long as most other major countries, Chemical & Engineering News wrote.