$2.1 billion in soybean deals signed
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad spoke of his “old friend” President Xi Jinping as business representatives from China and the US signed soybean deals worth more than $2 billion.
Sixteen soybean purchase agreements valued at $2.1 billion were signed between more than a dozen Chinese and American companies and producers in Des Moines, Iowa on Oct 14.
The signings took place at the World Prize Hall of Laureates where Xi, then China’s vice-president, was hosted during his second visit to Iowa in 2012.
In welcoming the Chinese delegation, Branstad recalled Xi’s previous two visits to Iowa. “President Xi’s first visit to Iowa in 1985 planted a seed that has grown over three decades and yielded tremendous value to both the people of Iowa and the people of China,” Branstad said.
“I have no doubt these contracts will enhance our trade and investment partnership and will be of great mutual benefit to both people in China and people in the US. Often I have been referred to by President Xi as an old friend, and we value our old friendship with the people of China.”
Officials from both China and the US, including CFNA (China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce) President Bian Zhenhu, Deputy Consul General of China in Chicago Liu Jun, Branstad and Lt Governor Kim Reynolds attended.
Phil Karsting, administrator of the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, applauded the deals by saying that “cooperation like this helps us to meet the everincreasing demand to feed the world population”.
According to Zhang Xiaoping, China director with the US Soybean Export Council (USSEC), China buys about 60 percent of all imported soybeans in the world, or 83 million tons.
China imports about 30 million tons of soybeans from the US, which translated into $15 billion a year for US farmers in very year in recent years.
Kirk Leeds, CEO of the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), said that Iowa, the top soybean and corn producer in the US, has been exporting soybeans to China for more than 10 years. About one quarter of the state’s soybeans have been sold to China in recent years.
Prior to the signing ceremony, a trade seminar between Iowa and Hebei, Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces was held. Organized by CFNA, USSEC and the ISA, experts from both countries discussed the sustainable production of soybeans and market trends in the US and China.
CFNA President Bian Zhenhu said that the state-province cooperation mechanism between China and the US is fruitful. During the two-day visit to Iowa, the delegation visited farms where they met with farmers, exchanged ideas and held seminars.
“Information and issues discussed and shared by the industrial experts are very valuable. It deserves to be further examined by business people on both sides,” Bian said.
The impact on soybean imports due to China’s slowdown in economic growth also was discussed at the seminar. Bian assured the US farmers and businesspeople that China’s demand for agriculture products will continue to grow. Despite China’s adaption to the new normal, i.e., a slower growth rate, China’s demand for quality produce like soybeans remains strong.
“Don’t worry, Chinese buyers will continue to come here to sign purchase contracts,” echoed Liu Jun, deputy consul general of China in Chicago.
“When China imports agriculture products, we worry that our own agriculture will suffer and face competition from other countries,” Liu said.
“However, we don’t close our market or accuse others. Similarly, China exports many industrial products to the US, and we hope we will not see trade protectionism or hear politicized and irresponsible accusations.”
Second row from left: Iowa Lt Governor Kim Reynolds, CFNA President Bian Zhenhu, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Liu Jun, deputy consul general of China in Chicago, toast one another to celebrate the $2.1 billion in soybeanpurchase agreements signed by Chinese and American business representatives in Des Moines, Iowa on Friday.