Governor Chet Culver says China presents "exciting opportunities" for trade. On Tuesday, Culver opened the Iowa Department of Economic Development’s new trade office in Beijing, one of the events during Culver’s 10-day trip to China.
"I think that demonstrates our commitment to trying to tap into this market," Culver says.
One person will work out of the office full-time and three others will consult on an as-needed basis according to Culver. "I just think the timing of opening that office is very critical. I think it shows that Iowa is very serious about trade, job creation back home that could result fro that kind of trade opportunity," Culver says. "We had kind of a celebratory night two nights ago, opening that office in Beijing."
Before Tuesday night Iowa had two, fully-staffed trade offices overseas — one in Frankfurt, Germany; the other in Tokoyo, Japan. The state has a contracted representative based in Mexico City as well. Culver says now is the right time to open one in China. "I think having is presence in the fastest emerging market a good thing, I mean, if you want to be competitive," Culver says.
Iowa has had a sister-state relationship with China’s Heibei province for 25 years and Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls who is on the trip, says that’s invaluable. "We live in an interdependent world," Danielson says. "We have more in common than I think most Iowans realize and the benefits of international trade and international relationships go both ways and we’re clearly experiencing that right now in Iowa."
Representative Rob Roberts, a Republican from Carroll who’s on the trip, too, says it’s been "extremely beneficial" to have that longstanding sister-state relationship with China’s Hebei province. "Iowa almost seems to have a stand-alone-nation status when it comes to speaking with Chinese officials. They recognize the significance of Iowa and what it is that we do, what we’ve done in the past and what the possibilities are in the future," Robert says, "and so that positions Iowa well to be a serious trading partner here."
Representatives of the Iowa Soybean Association are also on the trip. Culver spoke with Iowa reporters by phone earlier this morning. You may listen to the conversation by clicking on the audio link below.