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Iowa pork is focus of Southeast Asia trade mission

Posted Feb. 28, 2013

An Iowa trade delegation is visiting Vietnam and the Philippines this week and one of the goals is to sell more Iowa pork to the Southeast Asian nations. The prospects for increasing trade with the two countries are encouraging, according to officials participating in the mission.

Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and other members of the delegation, including Iowa Pork Producers Association President Greg Lear, held a news conference via phone from Manila this morning.

“Vietnam and the Philippines continue to grow economically and we continue to pursue beneficial opportunities through trade,” said Reynolds. “We can supply Iowa pork cuts that are in high demand elsewhere in the world.”

The Iowans learned from various meetings in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City earlier this week, and now the Philippines, that economic growth in the two countries is leading to higher incomes and higher demand for products.

“As the middle class grows, they want the quality, name-brand products Iowa can provide,” Reynolds said.

Vietnam and the Philippines are not among the top Iowa pork export markets, despite the fact that the Asian diet is mostly pork. The Vietnamese and Filipinos usually prefer pork products that aren’t normally consumed in the U.S. Pig feet, snouts, tails and ears are Asian staples. The Iowans also learned that pig ear drums are a delicacy in Southeast Asia.

The Iowa delegation also has discussed the Trans Pacific Partnership — an 11-nation regional trade pact that would allow for increased trade with Vietnam — with U.S. Embassy officials in the two countries and stressed the importance of getting the Obama Administration to finalize the free trade agreement.

Ractopamine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved swine feed additive used by hog farmers to produce leaner pork, has not been an issue this week. Lear said the issue hasn’t been brought up in any meetings with producers and industry personnel in either country. Russia recently banned U.S. pork imports over the ractopamine issue and China is considering a ban.

Overall, the officials said it’s been a productive week and they’ve been warmly welcomed at each stop of the trip.

“[The trip] is our opportunity to start laying the foundation for long-term relationships and look forward to what’s built on top of this exciting opportunity to come to Vietnam and the Philippines,” said Lear.

The Iowa delegation consists of about 20 state government and business officials. The IPPA contingent includes Board member and National Pork Producers Council Vice President Howard Hill and Executive Director Rich Degner.

The mission is scheduled to conclude on Saturday.

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