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California governor kicks off Mexico trade mission

By Judy Lin

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, July 27 2014 1:25 p.m. MDT

Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena talk during a luncheon held by the California Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. Brown and Meade discussed Brown's upcoming visit to Mexico.

Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Jerry Brown travels to Mexico for three days of meetings starting Monday aimed at increasing direct investments in California, promoting university exchanges and forming environmental partnerships to combat climate change.

The trip, organized by the California Chamber of Commerce, includes a delegation of more than 100 state government, business, economic development, investment and policy leaders. Delegates paid $5,000 each for the four-day trip, which is subsidizing the cost of Brown's travel.

"The relationship with Mexico, the role of those of Mexican heritage in California, is fundamental to our schools, to our well-being, and I think this trip will be productive," Brown said ahead of the journey.

"We want to increase trade. We want to deal with some issues on the refugees that are coming across the border. And I also want to collaborate with Mexico in pushing an intelligent climate change agenda," the governor said.

Brown is scheduled to begin his visit by meeting with Eruviel Avila, the governor of the state of Mexico. He will then sign a memorandum of understanding with Mexico's Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, promote California tourism and meet the American ambassador to Mexico.

On Tuesday, Brown will sign an education agreement, then meet with officials including Mexico's energy secretary and the president of the senate. On Wednesday, the governor plans to wrap up his trip by signing a trade agreement with Mexico, which is California's largest export market.

About 10 members of Brown's administration will accompany the governor, along with five state senators and 10 Assembly members. All the lawmakers are Democrats except Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside.

The governor's college roommate, retired Judge Frank Damrell Jr., and Brown's sister, former state Treasurer Kathleen Brown will also attend.

Business participants include Sempra Energy, BP America and other representatives of the energy, tourism and agriculture industries. Representatives of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund will also attend.

Brown met with Mexico's secretary of foreign affairs, Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena, in Sacramento on Wednesday ahead of the trade mission. The governor said long-term solutions such as trade and cultural exchanges are needed to improve the safety and economic well-being of Central American countries.

A surge of unaccompanied young migrants mostly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have crossed the border since October, and tens of thousands of families also have arrived.

The Democratic governor said the influx is more a humanitarian issue than a political one and that California "is willing to do its part," but he didn't provide details on what actions he might take. California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Thursday that she is helping secure lawyers to represent minors during immigration hearings.

Mexico's foreign affairs secretary said Wednesday that the country is looking to help fight immigrant trafficking by tightening control at its Guatemalan border, which is known to be porous.

Brown has invited President Enrique Pena Nieto to visit later this year in California.

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