Washington has new sister state as trade mission travels in India

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OLYMPIA — Washington has a new sister state a half a world away.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is in Asia on a trade mission, announced Wednesday that Andhra Pradesh in southeast India is part of a sister-state relationship, which has opportunities for business, cultural, medical and educational exchanges.

A 25-person delegation is in Hyderabad, the capital and largest city in Andhra Pradesh, to sell to people in the new sibling state everything from airplanes to french fries. The trade mission is also looking to establish new or expanded connections in life sciences, aerospace and information technology.

Microsoft already has a large presence in India, Gregoire said. SightLife, a Seattle-based organization that fights corneal blindness, works with L.V. Prassad Eye Institute in Hyderabad. On Wednesday, it opened a new transplant center.

"This mission is to bring jobs to Washington state," Gregoire said.

A growing middle class in India is a potential market for the state's potato and fruit crop.

The trade mission also plans a stop in South Korea.

The cost of travel for the governor and other state officials on the trip came from grants and foreign governments that invited them; there's no cost to state taxpayers, Gregoire said.