MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker began a four-day trade mission to London on Monday, marking the latest Republican with potential presidential aspirations to make such a trip to the United Kingdom.
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Walker is trying to bolster his foreign policy credentials ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign. His only previous trade mission was to China in 2013, and Walker has said he is working on scheduling a trip to Israel later this year.
Walker's London trip comes on the heels of a visit there last week by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was there in January as part of a 10-day trade mission across Europe. Then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also traveled to the UK last year.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a likely Democratic contender, was in London last summer as part of her book tour.
"I look forward to meeting with business and government leaders to tout the many benefits of doing business in Wisconsin, including our strong economic climate and outstanding workforce," Walker said in a statement about the London trip on Monday.
His spokeswoman had earlier said it was "a business trip, not a photo op."
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The United Kingdom is Wisconsin's sixth largest export market, bringing in nearly $700 million worth of products annually from the state. Great Britain has historically been interested in Wisconsin machinery and advanced manufacturing companies, but demand is growing for Wisconsin companies in life sciences, water technology and the service industries, according to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
Wisconsin imported about $290 million worth of products from Great Britain in 2013.
Walker has one public event planned: a Wednesday night speech at the prestigious international affairs-focused Chatham House think tank titled, "Building Global Partnerships for Stronger Local Economies." Walker's office said the speech will focus on the importance of forging strong global partnerships and how those relationships can fuel business growth and help grow local economies.
Walker also plans private meetings with high-level government officials and business executives, factory tours and a networking round table with graduates from the University of Wisconsin and Marquette University in Milwaukee.
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