Governor Terry Branstad will lead a delegation of Iowa agricultural interests on a trade mission to China and Japan in November.
The governor announced the mission during his weekly news conference at the statehouse this morning. He was joined by Iowa Pork Producers Association President Al Wulfekuhle of Quasqueton and Iowa Beef Industry Council Executive Director Chris Freland at the briefing.
“Trade missions like this one allow Iowa companies to expand their markets outside of the U.S. and ultimately create more jobs and strengthen our economy,” Branstad said.
This will be the governor’s fourth visit to China and third to Japan since 2011. Beijing and Hebei, Iowa’s sister city, will be the primary Chinese destinations. Tokyo is the primary destination in Japan. The ag groups will meet with investment or trade prospects and potentially with Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as attending a reception at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy.
China and Japan are important destinations for Iowa pork. Japan is the largest value market for Iowa pork and has been a long-term customer. For the current calendar year through July, exports of Iowa pork to Japan are down 2.7 percent from the same period a year ago due largely to Europe’s domination of Japan’s frozen pork imports for further processing into ham and bacon.
The Chinese have purchased $115 million of Iowa pork so far this year, increasing value from last year by 23 percent. For all pork exports from the U.S. to China, volume has increased 79 percent this year and value is up 63 percent from a year ago through July. U.S. exports to China stand at $634.5 million for the first seven months of this year.
“This trade mission comes at a critical time for Iowa pork producers. We’re facing tough economic times with prices below the cost of production,” said Wulfekuhle. “Expanding the market for Iowa pork in Japan and China is a key part of bringing profitability back to our industry.”
The mission will take place from Nov. 11-18 and Iowa Corn Promotion Board and Iowa Soybean Association members will join the pork and beef representatives on the mission.