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DES MOINES — More than $2.6 billion of Iowa soybeans and corn will be purchased by Taiwan, according to letters of intent signed during a ceremony at the Iowa Capitol on Tuesday.
A trade delegation from Taiwan joined Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa agriculture secretary Mike Naig in signing the informal agreements, which state Taiwan’s intent to purchase over the next three years about 100 million bushels of soybeans valued at roughly $2 billion, and 59 million bushels of corn valued at roughly $600 million.
During the ceremony, Reynolds said Iowa has spent years cultivating a close trading relationship with Taiwan, and that this new agreement demonstrates the growth of that relationship.
“I want to express my appreciation for everyone on both sides of the ocean who made this day possible, especially the organizations that facilitated trade between Taiwan and Iowa,” Reynolds said.
Johnson Chiang, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office’s Director General, also praised the deal.
Taiwan’s delegation has spent the past two days in Iowa meeting with state officials and university researchers, and visiting Iowa farms, officials said at Tuesday’s ceremony.
“I have come here and witnessed the great quality of products you offer to Taiwan,” Chiang said while expressing hope that the trade relationship will continue.
Iowa and Taiwan made a similar agreement in 2018, when the country pledged to purchase up to 144 million bushels of U.S. soybeans, which had an estimated value of $1.56 billion.
More than 60 percent of U.S. soybeans are exported globally each year, making trade critical to soybean farmers, Randy Miller, president of the Iowa Soybean Association and a soybean farmer, said in a news release.
“Our ability to maintain existing global markets and expand new ones is critical to the continued success of our state’s soybean farmers and the industry,” Miller said.
Larry Buss, president of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and a farmer, also praised the agreement, saying in a news release that it helps open markets for Iowa corn farmers.
Iowa Farm Bureau president Brent Johnson in a news release said the deal will provide an economic boost to Iowa farmers and their communities.
“As national leaders in corn and soybean production, Iowa farmers have never been more efficient and productive,” Johnson said. “In the absence of new export opportunities and federally negotiated trade deals, we are excited to explore opportunities at a state level to meet the growing global demand for Iowa-grown grain.”
According to the state economic development department, Taiwan is Iowa’s 12th-largest trading partner, with exports estimated at $305 million in manufactured and value-added goods in 2021. Those exports increased 4 percent in the first half of 2022, the department said.
In addition to corn and soybeans, Iowa exports meat, animal feed and pharmaceutical products to Taiwan, according to the department.
“Iowans are accustomed to (and) we’re proud of the fact that we have abundant agricultural production in this state, and that we are connected to consumers all around the world,” Naig, the state agriculture secretary, said during the ceremony. “And we celebrate that global connection, global position, and we draw a very close connection with our trading partners. Trade matters to Iowa.”
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