Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds announced earlier this week they will lead trade missions to South Korea and Brazil. Reynolds will lead a group of about 15 Iowans to Brazil later this month. Branstad will head an Iowa group going to South Korea in September. Both trips are aimed at expanding trade and investment opportunities and are being coordinated by the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Brazil is Iowa's fifth-largest trading partner, with exports exceeding $500 million in manufactured and value-added goods in 2014. South Korea is Iowa's ninth-largest export destination, with exports close to $367 million in manufactured and value-added goods during the same period. The governor and lieutenant governor have led trade missions to both destinations in the past.
Aiming to expand Iowa's trade and investment opportunities
"We have reaped benefits from previous trade missions and look forward to building on the foundations we have laid in the past," Branstad said at a press conference. "Trade missions like this allow Iowa companies to expand their export markets outside the U.S. and ultimately create more jobs here at home."
Reynolds said the delegation she is leading to Brazil includes representatives from private industry and will meet with government officials and businesses in Brazil involved in agriculture, biofuels, education and advanced manufacturing. "With our common strengths and Brazil's economic markets, both the U.S. and Brazil see tremendous opportunities in increasing trade between our two countries," she said.
Iowa firms involved in agriculture and industry participating
Iowa companies in all industry sectors, including agriculture, are participating or will be invited to participate in these two trade missions. Companies will have one-on-one, pre-qualified appointments targeted to their objectives, whether that is developing or expanding direct export sales, locating distributors or agents, or conducting market research, among other goals. Company recruitment for the Brazil mission has already concluded, while recruitment for the South Korea mission will begin shortly.
"With a record-breaking $15.1 billion in exports last year, Iowa is truly prospering from international trade. It is important we continue this positive momentum," said Reynolds.
Iowa is prospering from international trade relationships
Branstad will lead the delegation to South Korea. The goal of trade missions is to build long-standing relationships that eventually lead to expanded trade and investment opportunities. He said a previous trip to South Korea resulted in CJ Bio America partnering with Cargill to invest $600 million in a plant at Ft. Dodge. That facility now employs 320 people. At Ft. Dodge, Cargill produces 115 million gallons of ethanol per year as well as livestock feed and CJ Bio America takes Cargill's dextrose and produces 100,000 metric tons of lysine per year. The protein is used in swine and poultry feed.
"I'm optimistic our upcoming trade missions will yield additional success for our state," said Branstad.
Branstad says he may also visit China later this year
The Iowa governor said he may also visit China later in 2015, and has extended an invitation to host Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Chinese leader's upcoming visit to the United States. Jinping visited Iowa in 2012 while he was vice president. Branstad says that relationship has yielded significant economic growth for Iowa.
"China is a very important economic power and we have a long-standing friendship," said Branstad. "When the president of China calls you an old friend, it's a good deal. We want to build on that relationship between Iowa and China."
Iowa delegation to Brazil leaves here April 25, returns May 2
The Brazil mission takes place April 25 to May 2, 2015 and is comprised of visits to Sao Paulo and Ribeirão Preto. The South Korea mission is scheduled for September 7 to 13, 2015, with Seoul being the primary destination for this mission.
Highlights for both missions include exploring foreign direct investment opportunities, meetings with government and industry association officials, briefings on each market and Growing Iowa's Global Partnerships events. Iowa companies will participate in meetings specific to their market entry or expansion needs.
Branstad, Reynolds trips will be paid for with private donations
Reynolds said taxpayer dollars will not be spent on the governor's and lieutenant governor's travel to Brazil and South Korea. Their trips will be paid by private donations to the Iowa Economic Development Authority Foundation, while the Iowa business leaders on the trips will pay their own way.
The IEDA is a state agency that markets Iowa products and services, educates Iowa businesses on exporting and assists global companies wishing to establish or expand operations in Iowa and explores opportunities internationally for investment within the state. To learn more about these services or other trade missions IEDA is planning, visit iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/Programs/Intl.