Gov. Chris Christie embarks on trade mission to Mexico

Beginning Wednesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be in Mexico for a three-day trip that is coined as a trade mission and an opportunity…

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a news conference on Jan. 9, 2014. The Republican governor will be in Mexico for three days, starting on Wednesday. He will meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and business leaders to discuss ways to improve trade between New Jersey and Mexico. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Beginning Wednesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be in Mexico for a three-day trip that is coined as a trade mission and an opportunity for the Republican governor to experience the Mexican culture.

His office says the intent of the trip is to advance economic and cultural ties between New Jersey and Mexico through meetings with President Enrique Peña Nieto and Mexican business leaders.

“Mexico is an extraordinarily important trading partner, not only with the U.S. but in New Jersey,” Christie said in a statement. “This trip will help to continue to strengthen these ties.”

New Jersey and Mexico already hold strong economic ties. Last year, New Jersey exported about $2.2 billion worth of goods to Mexico, second only to Canada. That same year, New Jersey imported more than $3.4 billion in goods from Mexico, making Mexico the state’s 11th largest foreign exporter.

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Throughout the trip, Christie will be accompanied by a 15-member delegation of business and community leaders from New Jersey.

Among those in the delegation is Greg Brown, who is the CEO of Motorola Solutions Inc. and the chairman of the Rutgers University Board of Governors. Al Zapanta, president and CEO of the United States–Mexico Chamber of Commerce, and Michele Brown, CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, will also be there.

While in Mexico, Christie will attend a number of diplomatic and business meetings. On Wednesday, he’ll meet with Peña Nieto and attend a reception at the home of the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Tony Wayne.

He will also give remarks at various events, including one hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico on Wednesday and another hosted by The Latino Coalition on Thursday. All day Friday, Christie will travel to Puebla where he’ll meet with the local governor and visit a school.

“There couldn’t be a more important time than today for leaders, like Governor Christie, to understand how hugely significant the relationship of Mexico and the United States is,” stated Hector Barreto, chairman of The Latino Coalition and former administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“As a prominent government official, Christie recognizes the critical problems both nations face in regards to trade, security, economic growth, immigration, energy and education,” Barreto added. “He recognizes that the U.S. needs to strengthen ties and bridge the gap between two nations with shared borders and history.”

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This is Christie’s second international trip as governor. The first one was to Israel and Jordan in April 2012.

This latest international trip to Mexico comes at a time when the Republican Party is struggling to make inroads with Latino voters. It also comes as Christie considers running for president in 2016.

Some political analysts are pointing to Christie’s trip to Mexico as a chance for him to polish his foreign policy experience. Other potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates are doing just that. Among them is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who will go on a weeklong trade mission of his own to China and Japan two days after Christie returns from his trip.

Brigid Harrison, political science professor at Montclair University, told that she sees the trip to Mexico as a big opportunity for Christie.

“In traveling to Mexico, Gov. Christie has the opportunity to nurture his relationship with Latino voters, and highlight the strong support he has received from Latino voters to a national GOP constituency,” Harrison said. “He also has the opportunity to appear as an international statesmen on the world stage.”

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