SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gray Davis plans to meet with Mexican President Vicente Fox in Mexico City next week in an effort to boost the slumping economies of California and its southern neighbor.
Davis is to meet Monday with Fox and leaders of the Mexican Senate at Los Pinos — Mexico’s presidential residence — to discuss tourism and trade initiatives and economic security, aides announced Tuesday.
The leaders also likely will address border security and other issues related to the fallout of the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes, aides said.
“They are going to talk about issues of mutual concern,” said Davis spokesman Roger Salazar.
Already-weak economies in California and Mexico have suffered more because security concerns and long waits to cross the border have deterred travelers since Sept. 11.
Davis’ two-day trip will be the second official meeting between the leaders since Fox took office a year ago. Fox visited California in March, discussing the statewide power crisis with Davis and legislative leaders and opening a Mexican trade center in Santa Ana.
Davis and Fox pledged to meet twice a year to improve relations, which were strained when California voted in 1994 to bar most state services to illegal immigrants. Then-Gov. Pete Wilson made that issue a centerpiece of his successful re-election campaign the same year, angering Mexican leaders.
Since he was elected in 1998, Davis has worked to build a relationship with Fox and his predecessor, Ernesto Zedillo.
Mexico is California’s largest trading partner and export market, and the state’s Hispanic population has climbed to more than 10 million. “We need to do everything we can to foster that relationship,” Salazar said.
The trip also is politically strategic for Davis, who is wooing the state’s fast growing group of Hispanic voters as he prepares to seek re-election next year, one political scientist said.
“That’s part of what this is, to be the antithesis of Pete Wilson,” said Steven Erie, a University of California, San Diego, political science professor who studies California-Mexico relations.
During the visit, Davis also is to sign a memorandum of understanding with Baja California Gov. Eugenio Elorduy Walther to establish cooperation between the two neighboring states.
Then on Tuesday, Davis is scheduled to address the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico City.
California legislative leaders and Cabinet members also are scheduled to go on the trip and meet with their counterparts.
On the Net: For information on President Fox, click on English at http://www.presidencia.gob.mx