Iowans ex­pand­ing ‘foot­print’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By MAY ZHOU in Hous­ton and PAUL WELITZKIN in New York

Iowa Gov­er­nor Kim Reynolds is lead­ing a trade mis­sion to China that will fea­ture of­fi­cials from groups rep­re­sent­ing the state’s ma­jor agri­cul­tural pro­duc­ers.

“We be­lieve as a united Iowa agri­cul­tural del­e­ga­tion, we can find op­por­tu­ni­ties that are ben­e­fi­cial to both China and Iowa,” Reynolds said.

“We will have rep­re­sen­ta­tives from our corn, soy­bean, beef, egg, poul­try, dairy and turkey sec­tors seek­ing an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pand their foot­print in China as the coun­try’s mid­dle class grows,” Reynolds said of the 10-day trip, which be­gan on Wed­nes­day.

Reynolds, who suc­ceeded Terry Branstad as gov­er­nor when he be­came the US am­bas­sador to China on May 22, noted that agri­cul­tural “is the back­bone of Iowa’s econ­omy and con­trib­utes about $112 bil­lion to our econ­omy an­nu­ally”.

Last year, nearly $6 bil­lion worth of US pork was ex­ported to China, in­clud­ing more than $1 bil­lion from Iowa.

Meet­ings are planned for the del­e­ga­tion with Chi­nese govern­ment of­fi­cials, in­dus­try part­ners and Branstad in Bei­jing, Shang­hai and Xi’an, Shaanxi prov­ince.

“Re­la­tion­ships are es­pe­cially im­por­tant in China, and we are for­tu­nate that Gov­er­nor Branstad wel­comed a then lo­cal agri­cul­tural of­fi­cial from China over 30 years ago into Iowa named Xi Jin­ping, who is now the na­tion’s pres­i­dent,” said Reynolds. Xi first vis­ited Iowa in 1985. Even though Iowa is best known for its agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and ser­vices, Reynolds said that ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing is “ac­tu­ally the largest sec­tor of our GDP. Agri­cul­ture of course drives a lot of that.”

When Branstad was re­ceiv­ing a Chi­nese trade del­e­ga­tion as Iowa gov­er­nor in March, he

re­marked that he would like to be able to en­joy a bite of US beef at the US em­bassy in Bei­jing. His wish came true on June 30 in Bei­jing when Branstad had prime rib from Ne­braska to cel­e­brate the re­turn of US beef to China af­ter 13 years.

US beef had been banned from China since 2003 due to a mad cow disease scare.

Iowa’s ties with China had al­ready shown signs of in­creas­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Allen Williams, the busi­ness de­velop- ment man­ager at the Iowa Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Author­ity, the state has had more in­quiries from China in re­cent months than in the pre­vi­ous two or three years.

Reynolds said last month when an­nounc­ing the trip that “there is no bet­ter time than now to mar­ket and pitch our prod­ucts in China. Our re­la­tion­ship with the coun­try is strong, and their grow­ing mid­dle class means in­creas­ing pur­chas­ing power, and Iowa stands to gain sig­nif­i­cantly as a re­sult.”

Con­tact the writ­ers at mayzhou@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

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