NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie is planning a trip to Canada next month, expanding his foreign credentials and building his policy platform as he mulls a run for president in 2016.

Christie will travel to Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto during his two-day visit on December 4-5, his office announced Monday. He’ll be joined by a delegation of business and energy leaders.

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The trip’s official purpose is to promote trade and business ties between New Jersey and Canada — the state’s largest trading partner — with a focus on energy issues.

It will also give Christie the chance to develop what could become a central platform of his presidential campaign if he chooses to run: a focus on deepening the relationship between the U.S., Mexico and Canada and developing what he has dubbed a “North American energy renaissance” that would bolster local economies and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Besides delivering a major speech on the topic in Calgary, Christie also will meet with business leaders and government officials, including Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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The official trip is Christie’s third as governor. He traveled to Israel during his first term and to Mexico in September.

Trade between New Jersey and Canada totals nearly $16 billion a year, and supports more than 243,000 jobs, according to the governor’s office.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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