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Mayor Villaraigosa Prepares For South American Trade Mission

Greg Asciutto |
November 14, 2012 | 9:46 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (Creative Commons)
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (Creative Commons)
With only months remaining in his final term as Los Angeles' mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa will travel to South America next week to promote his city as a global trading partner of the future.

Villaraigosa, 59, will meet with regional business leaders and government officials in his two-week trade mission to Chile, Columbia and Brazil. The trip will begin Nov. 24 and commence Dec. 4. 

"The future of Los Angeles is tied closely to our neighbors in South America," Villaraigosa said. "As we strengthen and build our local economy, we must leverage our assets in this global marketplace to create jobs here in Los Angeles."

A group of city business, trade and tourism officials will accompany the mayor in his effort to establish Los Angeles as the region's main economic partner in the United States.

Notably, Forever 21 CEO Don Chang will join Villaraigosa on the trip. The retail franchise celebrated the opening of its new headquarters in Lincoln Heights on Wednesday and is looking to expand its international operations, particularly into Columbia. 

"I am thrilled that CEO and founder Don Chang will join me in South America next week to continue to strengthen and cement relationships between Forever 21, Los Angeles and the world," Villaraigosa said

The timing is key for Los Angeles to emerge as a leading economic player in South America. The 2014 expansion of the Panama Canal threatens to significantly increase the region's trade traffic and Brazil, host of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics, is slowly becoming a dominant figure in the Western Hemisphere. 

For Villaraigosa, the trip comes nearly a year after a similar trade mission in Asia. The mayor's growing global brand and recent domestic spotlight have put his name in the mix for the 2016 presidential race. 



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Reach Staff Reporter Greg Asciutto here. Follow him on Twitter



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