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Minnesota businesses seek stronger ties with Mexico during this week's trade mission

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Business leaders and government officials from Minnesota left Sunday for a trade mission to Mexico, where they hope to drum up more export business for the state. They'll be in the country for five days and will spend time in Mexico City and Guadalajara.

Mexico is Minnesota's second-largest export market, according to state officials, and accounts for 10 percent of the state’s exports. Minnesota companies sold $2.2 billion in goods to Mexico in 2014, second only to Canada ($5.6 billion).

"The trade mission will promote Minnesota exports and key industries as well as help Minnesota companies establish and build relationships with potential buyers, distributors and partners," Gov. Mark Dayton's office said in a statement.

The trade delegation includes business, higher education and political leaders, including a former political foe of Gov. Dayton: Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer of the 3rd District. Dayton defeated Emmer in the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Other delegates are top executives from Boston Scientific, Best Buy and other large Minnesota companies who have a presence in Mexico, as well as leaders from groups that represent soybean, corn, pork and dairy farmers in the state.

The state's food exports to Mexico last year amounted to about $592 million, which was up more than 77 percent from the prior year, according to state officials.

Minnesota also exports machinery, vehicles, iron and steel products, processed foods and plastics to Mexico, among other products.

Minnesota companies that have the locations in Mexico are Dairy Queen, with 95; Fastenal, with 36; Snap Fitness, with 22; and Best Buy with 19.

The Star Tribune notes this will be Gov. Dayton's third trade mission since he's been in office. He led similar trade trips to Europe and southeast Asia during his first term as governor.

The last time a Minnesota trade delegation visited Mexico was in 2000; it was led by then-Gov. Jesse Ventura, according to the Star Tribune.

Dayton is staying behind in Minnesota for an extra couple of days to attend a Monday meeting regarding the state's sex offender treatment program, but will join the delegation in Mexico when that's concluded.

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