- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Delegates on South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s third trade mission to China have closed one deal and others are in the works, Daugaard said in a Wednesday call from Shanghai.

Officials haven’t yet released details of the closed deal they say is worth half a million dollars.

“It just happened to come to fruition this week,” Daugaard said.

Another contract is in the works involving a Chinese company and Hesco Inc., a provider of organic and specialty grains. Hesco CEO Brad Hennrich said he hopes to wrap up that contract shortly after his return to the U.S.

Standards for organic products are strict in the United States, compared to China, he said. “What we have in the United States is what they want.”

Kathleen Fairfax, the assistant vice president for international affairs and outreach at South Dakota State, joined the cohort to promote South Dakota’s public universities and online programs. She said online degrees aren’t yet popular in China or promoted by the Chinese education ministry.

“Online education is viewed with a little bit of trepidation,” Fairfax said.

She said that online courses could first gain traction in business training programs and workshops and also for test preparation.

Daugaard also met with officials of the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia to establish a sister state for South Dakota. He said he received a warm welcome from officials who met with him on Sunday, a day they usually have off.

A sister state relationship can help with economic development as well as education and tourism exchange. He said the province of Inner Mongolia has interests in dairy and animal husbandry similar to South Dakota.

“They’re more rural, more like us,” Daugaard said about parts of Mongolia, as compared to the urban centers of Shanghai and Beijing where the delegation is spending most of its time.

The delegation is to return on Friday. The seven-day trip will cost the state about $93,000. Daugaard said the schedule has been packed.

“We’re definitely trying to milk every moment of our time here,” he said.