Gov. Terry Branstad
Gov. Terry Branstad
April 2, 2013

Des Moines, Iowa

Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday that he'll lead several governors on a trade trip to China later this month.

Branstad said the mission will help continue Iowa's trade relationship with China. He will be joined on the trip by three Republican governors - Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Guam Gov. Eddie Cavlo - as well as 46 people representing Iowa businesses and other organizations.

"The state of Iowa has a great opportunity to further expand our partnership with the People's Republic of China," Branstad said.

The group departs April 12 and returns April 18. Branstad said they will visit Beijing and three other cities for meetings with government officials and business leaders. A meeting with China's new president, Xi Jinping, is not definite.

The trip comes not long before the Iowa legislative session is scheduled to conclude.

Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said the trip will not hurt Branstad's ability to work on budget and policy issues with lawmakers because aides will work on the governor's behalf.

Branstad's ties to Xi date back to a 1985 diplomatic trip that Xi took to Iowa, during Branstad's first stint as governor. Xi returned to Iowa last February for stops in Muscatine and the Des Moines area.

Branstad last visited China in May 2012.

According to state officials, China imported $3.2 billion worth of goods from Iowa last year. Trade groups on the trip will include the Iowa Soybean Association, the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Corn Growers Association.

Travel costs for Branstad and an aide will be paid for by a foundation associated with the Iowa Economic Development Authority using private contributions from the other trip participants. Estimated costs for flights and hotels will be just over $9,000 per person, said Tina Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the quasi-public agency.

Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham will also go on the trip and her travel, which includes some additional stops, will be paid for through the Economic Development Authority budget, which receives state funding.