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Minn. gov planning trade mission to Brazil, Chile

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Friday he is planning a trade mission to Brazil and Chile, looking to growing markets for the state's exporters.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Friday he is planning a trade mission to Brazil and Chile, looking to growing markets for the state's exporters.

The Republican governor's office said the trip is scheduled for Dec. 5 to 12.

It will be the seventh major trade mission for Pawlenty, who has led state delegations to Canada, China, the Czech Republic, India, Israel and Poland. He has also visited Minnesota National Guard troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Pawlenty has been traveling on his own since June to speak about the future of Republican Party, including stops in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The two-term governor has ruled out a third term and is considered a potential GOP presidential candidate for 2012.

Trade missions are one of the few opportunities governors get to wade into foreign affairs.

Minnesota's exports to Brazil jumped nearly 29 percent from 2007 to 2008, adding up to $286 million. That's a sliver of the total $17 billion in Minnesota's annual exports. Even so, Brazil ranks as the state's 15th largest export market. Chile comes in at No. 30.

Demand for Minnesota's goods in Brazil — particularly medical equipment, agricultural machinery, aircraft parts and energy and environmental technology — is outpacing demand in Central and South America as a whole, the fastest-growing market for Minnesota exporters.

"It's a significant trading partner and increasing in importance. Of course one of the bright spots in Minnesota's economy is the ability to export," Pawlenty said after a deployment ceremony near the state Capitol for National Guard troops bound for Afghanistan.

Pawlenty's office said Chile is promising for Minnesota exports of computer hardware and software, food processing and packaging equipment, construction materials and mining equipment.

Pawlenty said his costs will be covered by funds left over from previous trade trips. About 30 business leaders are expected to travel with him, paying their own way.