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Kansas, Chinese province pledge ag partnership

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Gov. Sam Brownback said Monday that a new agreement between Kansas and central China's Henan province to work on agriculture, food safety and bioscience projects is "a major step forward" in furthering their trade relationship.

Brownback led a trade mission last week to China, and he said Monday that it was successful, citing the agreement he signed with Xie Fuzhan, Henan province's governor. Brownback said Kansas and Henan have committed to promoting increased partnerships for education, research and developing commercial projects from research.

The Kansas governor said the agreement follows up on three decades of goodwill missions involving his state and Henan province. Brownback went on a trade mission as state agriculture secretary in the 1980s.

"In order for Kansas to be competitive today and in the future in the global economy, we must develop strategic relationships with key trading partners, including China," the governor said in a statement.

He added: "This is the beginning of a long-term process for Kansas and Henan to work together on initiatives to benefit both Kansas and Henan."

The Kansas delegation included state Agriculture Secretary Dale Rodman and Commerce Secretary Pat George. It met with officials in China's national government and visited Guangdong province in southern China before returning early Monday.

According to the Kansas Department of Commerce, China was the state's third-largest trading partner in 2012. Kansas exports to China topped $1.1 billion last year.