Members of the All-Iowa Ag Trade Mission to China report getting a good reception from Chinese officials, and they say Gov. Branstad’s appointment as U.S. Ambassador to China has raised Iowa’s profile with Chinese leaders.
Gov. Kim Reynolds is leading the 35-member delegation representing all major Iowa commodity groups.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said the Branstad appointment has raised the profile of Iowa in China when compared to previous trade missions.
“I tell you many of us have been around back and forth here many times, many in this group have,” Northey said in a conference call from Beijing with Iowa reporters. “But we sense that there is some difference in the way that the group is received now.”
“It’s just a game-changer,” added Gov. Reynolds.
The delegation met with Vice-Premier Wang Yang who oversees agriculture trade and food security, as well as other top government officials.
China is already a major market for Iowa pork and soybeans.
Representatives of Iowa commodity groups pushed for more open trade in dairy, poultry, and eggs.
“Some products are extremely limited right now, for various reasons,” Northey said.
So far on the trip, no new trade deals have been signed.
“We signed a really big deal right before we left with a $5 billion contract with Iowa soybeans,” Reynolds said. “We're always working on looking for expanding markets.”
The delegation attended a dinner with Gov. Branstad at the Chinese embassy Tuesday night.
“He looks as natural as can be in that ambassador role,” Northey said.
“He hit the ground running,” Reynolds said.