116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES - Soybean industry representatives and a 49-member Chinese delegation signed contracts Thursday valued at $5.3 billion.
The official ceremony involved more than a dozen agreements for the Chinese to purchase $13.8 million metric tons of U.S. soy products through Aug. 31, 2016, according to Gov. Terry Branstad's office.
According to the Iowa Soybean Association, which took part in Thursday's Iowa-China Business Symposium, Iowa farmers on average produce between 13 million and 15 million metric tons of soybeans each year.
Branstad said trade between Iowa and China has 'dramatically increased” over the past decade; 30 percent of the soybeans produced in Iowa now go to China.
'Our trade and investment partnerships are for the mutual benefit of both countries,” Branstad said, expressing hope that new opportunities can be forged in the areas of renewable energy and economic development.
Shu Loumei, commercial counselor for the Chinese Consulate in Chicago, said there has been an increase in the number of Iowa companies operating in China, and more Chinese companies are looking for investments in Iowa.
'Iowa is getting increased popularity among Chinese,” she said. 'We do see great progress” with an expectation that Iowa exports to China will grow.
Branstad attributed the positive Sino-Iowa relationship to Chinese President Xi Jinping's 1985 visit to the state with an agricultural delegation from Hebei.
Branstad noted that he met with Xi in Seattle earlier this week, where he presented the Chinese president with a framed photograph of the delegation in his office in 1985. He also asked Xi to autograph a copy that Branstad said he plans to display in his formal Statehouse office.
'I think it's pretty neat when the president of China calls you an old friend,” he said.