(Des Moines) -- COVID-19 restrictions didn’t stop Iowa officials from finding a way to meet with leaders in Japan, which is one of the state’s leading Ag export markets.
Governor Kim Reynolds and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig – along with several Iowa and U.S.-based organizations – recently participated in a virtual trade mission with Japan. The Iowa delegation continued conversations with Japanese companies following a successful in-person meeting in 2019 to reinforce strong relationships and expand trade and investment opportunities for the state, according to Brad Frisvold with the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s International Trade Office. IEDA coordinated the effort.
“Japan has been one of our longtime partners if you look at trade perspectives,” Frisvold told the Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network. “Our goal is to actively support efforts in our primary markets and Japan is one of them. Mexico, Korea and China are others. We had trade delegations in Japan frequently in the past and as recent as 2019, Governor Reynolds and Secretary Naig were in-market and led a trade and investment mission to Japan. As part of the pandemic, we wanted to make sure we could keep those relationships open. With Japan being an important protein and grain trading partner, we wanted to make sure we continued those relationships even if it was in a virtual setting.”
In 2020, Iowa exports exceeded $17.6 billion, with products and services reaching over 200 countries and territories around the world. Specific to Japan, Iowa companies exported $1.4 billion. In addition, Japan is Iowa’s leading export market for pork and beef products. Iowa companies exported $634.5 million in meat products to Japan in 2020.
“We worked the governor’s office and Secretary Naig’s office to make sure it was viable and how we could pull this together,” said Frisvold. “We ended up meeting virtually face-to-face with the four top protein importing companies within Japan.”
IEDA collaborated with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) to lead the group that included representatives from the Iowa Beef Industry Council, the Iowa Pork Producers Association and Iowa State University. Leaders of the groups provided agriculture industry insights and Iowa trade information.
The IEDA’s International Trade Office connects Iowa companies with markets for their products and services, educates Iowa businesses on exporting and assists global companies wishing to establish or expand operations in Iowa.