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Gov. Branstad plans to send pork to South Korea

BY CAITLIN FRY | FEBRUARY 08, 2011 7:10 AM

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Within a year, Iowa might be sending pork products to South Korea.

Gov. Terry Branstad announced Monday he wants to open a trade office in South Korea and expose that part of the world to the products Iowa has to offer.

“[A trade office] is important right now because trade is an important aspect for economic developments in Iowa,” said Tim Albrecht, Branstad’s communications director.

Albrecht said the office would help create some of the 13,000 jobs Branstad wants during his time in office. The announcement also stemmed from his recent proposal — the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress.

The mission of the partnership, according to the governor’s website, is “to grow and diversify Iowa’s economy” through job creation, retention, and expansion.

“I’m going to focus on working with other ag-state governors, promoting the completion of the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement and its ratification, and we see that as a great market opportunity, especially for pork and our pork-producing state,” said Branstad in Monday’s press conference.

Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, he didn’t know specifics of the planned office but any trade agreement can be beneficial.

“Everything we can do to trade Iowa products is a good thing for the economy,” he said.

The state will be able to operate a trade office in South Korea under President Obama’s U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement. That agreement is expected to increase American exports by up to $11 billion and also create 70,000 jobs in America, according a White House press release. Albrecht said Branstad had been anticipating Obama’s trade agreement for some time.

“[Branstad] wanted the free-trade agreement with South Korea, which Obama recently ratified, to be done last year,” said Albrecht. “It was something that he’s discussed during his campaign, as well.”

While Branstad’s office is still working on the specifics for the trade office, Albrecht said the governor is excited to begin work on the project and show South Korea the benefits of trading with Iowa.

“The president has set an ambitious goal in terms of increasing exports, and I’ve set an ambitious goal in terms of increasing exports,” Branstad said during the press release.

In addition to South Korea, Branstad said he hopes to include China and India in their growing international economic relations.

Iowa State University agricultural Professor Robert Martin said he believes the trade office could aid the export of Iowa’s products and be beneficial for the state’s farmers.

“[It’s] a good idea,” Martin said. “If you expand trade, you will have more Iowa products in that part of the world.”


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