Representative Michael Saba (D-9/Hartford) has been working to expand South Dakota’s access to international markets, with little support from the rest of state government. But now Governor Kristi Noem’s allowing the coronavirus pandemic to run rampant has sabotaged Rep. Saba’s efforts to build our ag trade with Egypt, because the Egyptian delegates he’s been working with are afraid of our outbreak:
“The group that we’ve been working on for some time which was scheduled to be in from Egypt has now had to cancel because the headlines in Egypt are that South Dakota is one of the leading states with the COVID virus,” Saba said on KELO Radio’s It’s Your Agri-Business with Bill Zortman Friday.
Saba has been in trade talks with Egypt for months. Egypt relies on imported foodstuffs like soybeans and corn to maintain its food supply.
Saba suggested the canceled meeting was a consequence of South Dakota’s hands-off approach to the pandemic.
“We need to keep our businesses open as much as we can, but now we’re paying later. Because [there are] other states now that these people from Egypt could still go into” [Carter Woodiel, “Pandemic Puts S.D. Trade Talks on Hold,” KELO Radio, 2020.10.23].
Noem can keep inviting gun-toting ideologues and other refugees from civic life to South Dakota, but her failure to address the coronavirus pandemic tells serious traders like Representative Saba’s Egyptian acquaintances that South Dakota is no place to do business. That’s the kind of failure that will lastingly depress South Dakota’s economic development in a more risk-averse global economy.