Government

Ernst: Branstad 'instrumental' in trade negotiations with China

Gazette photo by Rod Boshart

U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad poses for a photo Friday with gymnastics coach Liang Chow and members of the Chinese women's national gymnastics team who are in Iowa to train at his West Des Moines facility. Branstad attended an event in Des Moines celebrating of the 15th anniversary of the Iowa-China Business Council and Iowa-China Business Forum.
Gazette photo by Rod Boshart U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad poses for a photo Friday with gymnastics coach Liang Chow and members of the Chinese women's national gymnastics team who are in Iowa to train at his West Des Moines facility. Branstad attended an event in Des Moines celebrating of the 15th anniversary of the Iowa-China Business Council and Iowa-China Business Forum.

INDEPENDENCE — Former Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has been “very, very instrumental” in the ongoing trade negotiations between the United States and China, Sen. Joni Ernst said Wednesday.

“If anybody else had been in that position, I don’t think we would be as far along with the Chinese as we are right now,” the Iowa Republican said after a town hall meeting in Independence.

Branstad, governor of Iowa for more than 22 years, resigned in May 2017 to become President Donald Trump’s ambassador to China. He enjoyed early success in reopening China to U.S. beef exports.

However, since Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese goods in June, concern has grown that American farmers will lose an export market, especially for their soybeans and pork.

Ernst believes Branstad is the “right man at the right time” because of his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two have known each other since Xi visited Iowa in the 1980s.

“Because he knows the government, because he has that relationship built in that government, we have been able to communicate a lot better,” Ernst said. “We desperately needed someone who has that type of a relationship and can work in a blunt manner with the Chinese.”

She doesn’t see a quick resolution to trade differences with China. Branstad is more optimistic.

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“So while I think China will be a long haul, the ambassador does seem to think it will be resolved sooner,” Ernst said.

“I hope the ambassador is correct.”

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