South Dakota and Egypt are making progress on a trade agreement that could be a boost for the state’s agricultural economy.
State Rep. Michael Saba, who is facilitating the talks, appeared on KELO Radio’s It’s Your Agri-Business Monday with Egyptian Ambassador Hamdi Saleh.
Egypt relies on imported foodstuffs like soybeans and corn to maintain its food supply. Saleh said South Dakota and Iowa make for good partners.
“Food security is a high priority in our agenda, to try to work a partnership which we can really work to the benefit of both sides,” Saleh said.
Saleh visited South Dakota in November as part of the talks. He said he hopes to do so again once the COVID-19 pandemic dissipates.
“We hope that we can overcome that and move on,” Saleh said of the pandemic. “I think we have very good potential for outstanding cooperation between the two states and Egypt.”
Saba said a long-term partnership would be welcome news for South Dakota farmers, who felt the adverse effects of the trade war with China last year. He said the pandemic hasn’t slowed discussions down.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t be negotiating by phone, and they already are,” Saba said. “They’ve already been communicating with a number of companies in South Dakota.”