On behalf of Iowa's corn farmers, we would like to congratulate Iowa Governor Terry Branstad on his confirmation by the U.S. Senate to ambassador of China. President Donald Trump nominated Branstad in December and last night he completed the final step in the vetting process. Throughout his distinguished tenure as Iowa Governor he has been a tireless advocate for Iowa's corn farmers, and we are thankful to have such as steadfast supporter of agriculture in this vital position.
The Governor has been a champion on many key issues impacting Iowa's corn growers throughout the years he has been in office. The governor has been a strong supporter of the biofuels industry in our state. We have especially appreciated his work in developing relationships with international customers of U.S. agricultural exports. He has worked in conjunction with the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) to lead numerous trade missions to China and host trade teams in our state. Governor Branstad brings to the role a long-standing and positive relationship with the people and leaders of China especially with Chinese President Xi Jinping which he forged over many years. In 1985, when Xi was a provincial official, Branstad lead an agricultural trade mission to Iowa including stops at Iowa Corn leaders' farms.
China is an important market for U.S. corn in all forms including the second-largest purchaser of U.S. ethanol last marketing year; and a critical buyer of U.S. distiller's dried grains (DDGS). The China/Hong Kong market is also the third largest customer for both U.S. pork and beef exports.
As the world's two largest economies, the United States and China account for approximately one-third of the world's gross domestic product (GDP), one-third of the world's outward foreign direct investment, and one-sixth of the world's exports of agricultural products. Two-way agriculture trade between the countries has grown consistently over the last decade, reaching $35.6 billion in 2015.
This comes at a time when there are several important issues facing our trading relationship with China. It is important to have a strong diplomat and experienced negotiator in this appointment. We look forward to working with Governor Branstad as he moves into this new role.
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