Gregoire to promote trade in India, South Korea

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire will lead a state delegation on a 10-day trade mission to India and South Korea, where she will meet with government officials and business leaders.

The group will include nearly 50 people from the state’s business community, education and government, and will leave the state Sunday, and arrive in India next Tuesday.

Last year, India was Washington state’s 24th largest export market for goods, Gregoire said, and for the first six months of this year exports from there have grown to nearly $350 million, up more than 26 percent from June 2011. South Korea is the state’s fourth largest export market.

Gregoire arrives in Hyderabad, India on Oct. 2, where she will kick off the 10-day trade mission, followed by stops in Delhi and Mumbai. While in India, Gregoire will meet with officials in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, an area that has a large Microsoft presence. She also will help open a new corneal transplant processing center operated in partnership with Sightlight, a Seattle-based global health organization.

“As India’s economy thrives, we know that consumers there are seeking more imported products from the United States,” Gregoire said in a written statement announcing the trip. “This is our opportunity to get out in front, and make sure that consumers and businesses in India are aware of the quality items produced in Washington state.”

Gregoire will also be meeting with government officials in an effort to get tariffs placed on Washington agricultural products lowered. India imports apples, wine, pears, peaches and lentils from Washington state.

Gregoire will then head to Korea, where she will visit a Costco and a Popeye’s restaurant where she’ll serve customers french fries made from Washington-grown potatoes. She’ll also meet with Korean business leaders to discuss state companies who are focused on high-power lasers, energy and automotive technology.

Gregoire spokeswoman Karina Shagren said that money remaining from delegate fees from prior trade missions will pay for the trip for the governor and two staffers, except for airfare and the stay in South Korea, which will be covered by officials there. Grants will cover the travel costs for staff from the Department of Agriculture and Commerce who are attending, Shagren said. The private parties who make up the delegation will pay for themselves.

In July, Gregoire returned from a weeklong trade mission to Ireland and England, where she led a delegation from the state’s aerospace, green energy and technology industries.

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