Basque president, officials discuss trade, business in Idaho with Gov. Otter and state officials

Gov. Butch Otter led state officials today in welcoming Basque President Iñigo Urkullu and representatives of the Basque autonomous region and Bizkaia province on their visit to Boise for Jaialdi, the weeklong international celebration of Basque culture and heritage.

“Our trip coincides with Jaialdi,” the Basque president said in Spanish. “But we also want it to be a trip in which we establish a relationship with the state of Idaho.”

“Trade?! You want to buy something?” the governor joked, not waiting for the full translation.

“Yeh!” Urkullu replied in English, laughing.

“I’m selling!” Otter said.

“Me too!” came the reply.

“Now we’re cutting the meat on the table.”

Otter, with Lt. Gov. Brad Little and other state officials, met privately with the Basque delegation for about an hour. Afterward, the Basque president, or lehendakari, and the governor spoke of expanding trade opportunities in the areas of renewable energy, technology and agriculture. Urkullu said about 20 Basque companies operate today in Idaho. The business relationship between Idaho and the Basque region would grow, he said.

Otter said the meeting was a chance for the two sides to revisit and “refresh” the cooperative agreement Lt. Gov. Brad Little signed with Basque officials in 2012 to strengthen business ties and look at “opportunties for us to engage in more energetic trade with the Basque country and with their products.”

Afterward, the Basque delegation met with Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and city officials. Several more cultural and business exchanges and collaborations are expected during their visit this week.