Governor Branstad leaves Sunday for an 11-day trade mission to Japan, South Korea and China — and Branstad is scheduled to meet with China’s vice president during the trip.

“This is the highest (ranking) elected official that I’ve ever met with in China and this is a significant opportunity for the state of Iowa,” Branstad says. “I first met Vice President Xi years ago when he was part of a delegation that came here to Iowa from our ‘Sister State’ of Hebei.  That was back in 1985.”

Branstad was in his first term as governor in 1985. After 16 consecutive years in office at the end of the last century, Branstad’s back in office, in his fifth term as Iowa’s governor, and he’ll be making his third trip to China.

Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds says China — the world’s second-largest economy — presents great export opportunities for Iowa farmers and businesses. According to the U.S./China Business Council,Iowa exports to China have grown by 1293 percent over the past decade. Reynolds led a trade delegation to China and South Korea in June and Branstad will meet with some of the same contacts Reynolds visited. 

But Branstad says the hallmark of this trip will be his face-to-face meeting with China’s vice president.

“This is huge and normally governors don’t get this level of meeting,” Branstad says. “Vice President Xi has moved up the ranks…in line to be the next president of China.”

In Japan, Branstad will attend the 43rd annual meeting of the Midwest U.S./Japan Association. In South Korea, Branstad will meet with one company which has made an investment in Iowa, and with another South Korean company Branstad hopes to convince to expand in Iowa.

“I realize that Iowa is no longer just competing with our neighboring states,” Branstad says. “It is truly a world economy and we need to build those relationships.”

Branstad leaves Sunday the 18th and returns to Iowa on September 28.  Branstad and Reynolds made their comments this morning during the administration’s weekly news conference.