New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United States has been visiting Iowa this week. Iowa’s the first state Ambassador Roy Ferguson has visited since moving to the District of Columbia in mid-February.
“It’s been a very successful visit,” Ferguson says. “I came…because of the growing links between Iowa and New Zealand, particularly in the bio-tech area.” Ferguson has visited Iowa State University, toured ethanol plants and other manufacturing facilities, and he met with a group of central Iowa business leaders this (Thursday) morning. “Sometimes governments can facilitate contacts and help networking simply because we have the resources to visit places, to meet people and to make connections,” the Ambassador says.
Iowa’s governor took a delegation of Iowans to New Zealand in 2004 and signed a “compact” to expand trade ties between the two countries. “We were very impressed with the similarities of interest between Iowa and New Zealand, the similarities in size and the fact that we both come from agricultural backgrounds…and have had a similar international outlook in terms of the importance of international trade on our economies,” Ferguson says.
New Zealand’s top imports from the U.S. are machinery, planes, computers and electrical appliances. New Zealand’s top exports to the United States are beef, dairy products, lamb and wood. Iowa officials say there have been over two dozen business relationships cemented between Iowa and New Zealand companies in the past two years.
The ambassador says he was “keen” to see if he could build on those relationships and broaden collaboration in the areas of science and education. As for new discoveries, Ferguson says he had been told Iowa was flat, but found out it has a “gently rolling” landscape.
“We’ve had just a marvelous stay and I think I was impressed by the similarity in values between Iowa and New Zealanders,” the ambassador says. “We are both people who are sort of rooted in an agricultural background and who value hard work and honesty and have a can-do attitude.”