NEW YORK – Reports are running rampant today that Iowa Governor Terry Branstad was offered and has accepted the position as Ambassador to China by President-elect Donald J. Trump.
Branstad was in New York Tuesday meeting with Mr. Trump about the position, currently held by Max Baucus. Reuters reports that Branstad “called Chinese President Xi Jinping a ‘long-time friend’ when Xi visited Iowa in February 2012″ and has personal ties to the nation of approximately 2 billion people after several trips there in recent years.
In 2013, Site Selection Magazine and the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Association named Branstad as the “Foreign Direct Investment Politician of the Year” during the 10th Annual World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment in Shanghai, China. Again, Branstad has made a number of trips to China, the world’s second-largest economy behind the United States.
“As the governor of Iowa, I have the tremendous opportunity to promote our state, our people and our strong resources to a world market,” said Branstad as he accepted the award. “This award gives Iowa a prominent place on the world stage, and is an honor in which all Iowans can take pride. The hardworking, sincere people of Iowa are proud of the safe and reliable products they produce for a growing world population. Lt. Governor Reynolds and I have worked tirelessly to grow jobs in our state and improve our economy – and these efforts are being noticed around the world.”
Branstad also visited China in 2012 and said the relationship he had developed with (then) Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping had given Iowa a “leg up” in “developing economic and cultural ties with one of the world’s superpowers” as reported by the Cedar Rapids Gazette.
Just this past October, Branstad announced he would lead a trade mission to China and Japan in mid-November – his fourth such visit to China. In 2015, Iowa companies exported $1.2 billion in manufactured and value-added goods to China and $1.1 billion to Japan. China is Iowa’s third largest export destination, while Japan is the fourth largest. In addition, Japan is Iowa’s leading export market for pork and beef products. Iowa companies exported $564 million in meat products to Japan in 2015.
“This mission marks my fourth visit to China and third to Japan since 2011 and is a testament to my long-standing commitment to strengthening economic ties with these important export markets for the state,” Branstad said in October. “Trade missions like this one allow Iowa companies to expand their markets outside of the U.S. and ultimately creates more jobs and strengthens our economy.”
The mission was made up of stops in Beijing and Hebei (Iowa’s sister state) in China while Tokyo was the primary destination in Japan. In China, Governor Branstad was slated to speak at China’s Food Security and Food Safety Strategy Summit and the International Meat Conference.
Locally, Branstad’s ties to China and their hunger for pork may have been behind his presence in announcing the Prestage pork plant for Mason City back in March. It was said during that tragic debacle that much of the pork produced in the plant by slaughtering up to 20,000 hogs a day would end up in China, as markets were flat here in the U.S. but rising there. Branstad came to Mason City on March 21, 2016 to help announce that the sprawling plant would be built on the city’s south side, making many citizens feel as though the deal was set and they had no voice in the matter. However, the Prestage plant was turned away, led by the efforts of the late councilman Alex Kuhn, who withstood withering pressure from Mayor Eric Bookmeyer before he took his own life weeks later. NIT has been told the Governor fumed when promises made by Mayor Eric Bookmeyer that the deal would be a “slam-dunk” turned out to be a fallacy. Days after the city council sent Prestage packing, Branstad snubbed Mason City when he called in sick to an appearance here to sign a bill. He signed it a few days later in Newton, instead.
Branstad looks like a genius now after weathering the rocky months leading up to Mr. Trump’s sweeping electoral victory over liberal Hillary Clinton. Branstad was an early supporter of Mr. Trump, and his son was in charge of the Trump campaign here in Iowa. Even as other Republicans across the country hopped off the Trump train due to some supposed outlandish rhetoric out of the Trump camp, Branstad remained stoically and steadfastly in Mr. Trump’s corner. His allegiance has paid off in this new post.
Branstad will face Senate confirmation if the reports are true.