ANKENY, Iowa -- Kirk Leeds has been on 25 trade missions to China. The mission before him now could be the most challenging: the unknown.
"The simple answer is that we don't know," Leeds, CEO of the Iowa Soybean Association, said from his group's Ankeny headquarters on Monday. "That's the part that is the most concerning to us. We don't know how much the rhetoric is going to lead to national policy."
It's President Trump's rhetoric that leads Leeds to the uncertainty following a tit-for-tat trade dispute between the United States and China.
President Trump's decision to levy tariffs on Chinese aluminum and steel led to China enforcing tariffs on 128 American products including pork--a key export for Iowa--fruits, and wine.
Soybeans aren't on the list. Leeds hopes the $14 billion a year export for the U.S. can remain off that list because of the importance soybeans now have in the Chinese diet.
Leeds said the Chinese leadership is well aware of what industries are key in Trump's strongest areas of support in the United States, but they also know what exports are most important to their own well-being.
"The Chinese are also very good at trying to balance their retaliation or responses and so, as they looked at those tariffs, they've tried to identify tariffs that did they'd implement on the U.S....that are kind of equal but without causing damage to their own consumers."