DES MOINES — An economic development trip to India could deliver results within months by building on the trade partnership that has led to increasing Iowa exports, Gov. Terry Branstad said Monday.
Iowa is chasing “at least one significant” project and several other smaller investments, Branstad said in a conference call with reporters from Chennai, India. He’s on a six-day trade trip, which began in Japan.
Branstad said Iowa could see benefits from the trip “within a matter of months,” the Des Moines Register reported.
Several companies based in Iowa or with a significant business presence in the state have operations in India, including DuPont Pioneer, Kemin Industries and Emerson, the parent company of Fisher Controls in Marshalltown. In addition, companies in India are interested in investing in Iowa, Branstad said.
Iowa exports to India grew 22 percent in the first half of the year compared to the same six months last year, according to figures provided by state economic development officials.
“They have a growing population, a rising middle class, and although they don’t think they’ll get to 8 to 9 percent growth anticipated this year, they’ll probably see 5 or 6 percent. We’d take that,” Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham said.
She said 54 percent of India’s population is under 25 and they have a 75 percent literacy rate.
“When you add that up, the question should be, ‘Why haven’t we been to India sooner?’ There is immense opportunity here,” Durham said.
The current trade mission is the first visit to India for Branstad and Durham.
Agricultural trade might be a little slower to develop, and might first begin with sharing agricultural research and best-practices for growing, state Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey said.
“As you look at the growing population, you have to think that there’s an opportunity for that down the road,” he said.