Governor Terry Branstad says his trade mission in Asia is going exceptionally well. In a conference call this morning from China, Branstad says he and the members of the Iowa delegation just arrived in Beijing after spending several days in Seoul, South Korea. The governor says the Korean business leaders he met with were very receptive to broadening relations in Iowa.
“We have one company that’s already starting to do business in Iowa, another that we’re very encouraged about potentially locating in our state and another that already has an operation in California,” Branstad says. “We think within a year or two, they’ll have another operation in America and hopefully they’ll take a look at Iowa and we had a very productive meeting with them.”
Branstad and the other Iowans met today in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing with China’s Vice President Xi Jinping. Branstad says Jinping will likely become China’s president within a year.
“We have a special relationship with him because he was a county party leader in the Habay province when we established a sister state there,” Branstad says. “He came with the delegation, his first visit to America, he came to Iowa in 1985.” The governor says Jinping reminisced fondly today about his time exploring Iowa, during which he met with Branstad and stayed with a family in Muscatine.
Branstad says Des Moines-based Principal Financial Group hosted a reception earlier today in Beijing that was well-attended. “Principal is already doing business here in China and we are visiting about the possibility of them being able to partner with a Chinese company in order to market their 401-K products here in the Chinese marketplace,” Branstad says.
“This would be a tremendous opportunity for them.” Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, says they’re making significant inroads in China to encourage trade and investment in Iowa.
“We’ve never had such a high official meeting with an Iowa delegation before, a meeting with the vice president,” Durham says, “as we begin to talk about the opportunities for bringing some of our expertise in the financial world into China.” Branstad and the other Iowans will be heading to Japan next, where they’ll take part in the 43rd Annual Joint Meeting of the Midwest U.S.-Japan.
The governor will also meet with the governor of Yamanashi Prefecture, Iowa’s Japanese Sister State, and meetings are also planned with officials from several Japanese companies. This is the second Iowa delegation to visit Asia this year. In June, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, Ag Secretary Bill Northey and some 40 other Iowans visited South Korea and China.
State ag officials say China buys nearly 60% of Iowa’s agricultural exports, including nearly $2-billion worth of soybeans per year.