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Iowans expanding 'footprint'

By May Zhou in Houston and Paul Welitzkin in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-22 07:30

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 development 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."

 

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