New Jersey Governor Chris Christie used the first day of a trip to Mexico to call for an end to the 39-year-old U.S. ban on crude oil exports and approval of TransCanada Corp.’s stalled Keystone XL pipeline.
Christie, 51, a second-term Republican and potential 2016 candidate for president, said yesterday in a Mexico City speech that the U.S. needs to avoid “foolish regulations.”
The export ban, passed by Congress in 1975 following the Arab oil embargo, is drawing new attention as technologies such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have made the U.S. the world’s largest oil producer.
“For all of North America, the energy revolution has improved our strategic and competitive position,” Christie told U.S. and Mexican business leaders. “But the revolution remains in its infancy. And whether North America realizes the full potential of its energy opportunity will be the result of more than just luck and natural bounty, it will also be driven by the policy choices and investments we must make.”
Christie’s speech made no mention of immigration or border security, two of the most pressing issues in U.S.-Mexico relations.
The governor was scheduled to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who last month ratified the final laws opening the nation’s state-controlled petroleum industry to foreign investment. Christie plans to meet with Mexican cabinet ministers and to visit the state of Puebla, which has historic ties to Mexican-Americans in New Jersey.
The trip gives Christie, who is considering a White House run, a chance to bolster his foreign-policy credentials ahead of the Republican nominating contests in 2016 and draw contrasts between himself and potential rivals on immigration. The visit to Mexico is his second foreign trip, after traveling to Israel in his first term.
The speech, at an event organized by the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico, was billed by Christie advisers as a major policy address.
Christie said that Mexico and Canada, the U.S. partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement, have too often been an afterthought for America and should be a foreign policy priority. Mexico and Canada are the top two U.S. export markets and purchase one-third of U.S. goods sold abroad. Mexico is New Jersey’s second-biggest export market, he said.
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