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Branstad Confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to China

Branstad’s new assignment leans heavily on ag trade.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- From the rural roads of Iowa filled with tractors and trucks, to the bustling streets of Beijing, China, filled with bicycles and motorcycles, Governor Terry Branstad, newly confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to China, faces opening markets to U.S. products in the largest country in the world and the world’s second-largest economy.

Following today's Senate vote confirming his nomination to be ambassador with a vote of 82 yes to 13 no, Branstad now readies himself for what he calls a difficult assignment but a great opportunity.

“It’s the most important ambassadorship in the world,” Governor Branstad told Successful Farming reporters in a recent meeting.

China’s President Xi Jinping and Governor Branstad are old friends, dating back to the Chinese leader’s first visit to Iowa in 1985.

Recently, Governor Branstad visited with Successful Farming reporters about the key areas that President Donald Trump wants him to focus on in this new role.

Ambassador Branstad says that he is squarely focused on getting U.S. ethanol and dried distiller grains (DDGs) exports ramped back up in China.

"Both products make a lot of sense for China," Branstad told Successful Farming. "They (China) have a big air pollutiion problem and ethanol can help address that problem."

In addition, China has a siginificant import duty on U.S. DDGs that Ambassador Branstad is going to try and get lifted.

For years, U.S. farmers have complained that China cancels previously purchased U.S. soybean orders without any penalty. And China is known for not sharing the exact data on corn and soybean stocks.

Ambassador Branstad is hoping that he can use his past relations and built up trust with China President Xi Jinping to get the oldest and smartest trading country to agree to more transparency.

"I hope that someone like myself that has a long history with China can be a good go-between to address transparency, trade, and other issues between our two countries," Branstad says.

As long as the Communist Party Congress signs off on Xi Jinping’s second term in office this fall, Ambassador Branstad will have a close ally at the top of China.

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