By Megan Davies and Hilary Russ
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a likely 2016 Republican presidential contender, will be promoting his state's life sciences industry in a trip to the United Kingdom starting Sunday, where he is also scheduled to meet the Prime Minister and catch an Arsenal match.
The brash, charismatic second-term governor is expected to soon announce whether he intents to run for president. On Jan. 23, Christie supporters formed a political action committee, the biggest indication yet that he will make a bid for the White House.
The UK is the third largest trading partner for New Jersey after Canada and Mexico, and the trip will focus on pursuing new opportunities for growth between UK and New Jersey in the field of life sciences, Christie told reporters on Friday in embargoed remarks.
"One of the main objectives for the trip is to focus on the opportunities that exist between the UK and New Jersey and our country as a whole," said Christie.
Christie will attend a life sciences round table in Cambridge with participation from New Jersey-based biopharmaceutical company Celgene.
He will meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron on the trip and watch football team Arsenal play Aston Villa on Sunday - but also hopes on Sunday to catch the Super Bowl, the biggest annual showdown of the U.S.'s National Football League.
"I'm looking forward to going to the Arsenal game and hopefully watch a bit of the Super Bowl as well and do the work we need to do to bring more jobs back to New Jersey by creating a stronger relationship between our state and our third largest trading partner," Christie said.
Christie, who recently courted controversy over whether he should have gone to Texas for a Jan. 4 Dallas Cowboys game, could end up squaring off against any of a number of other Republicans in the quest for political and financial support.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker are some of the leading rivals who so far have formed political action committees (PACs) to raise funds.
In January, Christie, 52, aimed to grab the spotlight in Iowa at the first big gathering of likely 2016 Republican contenders..
Last year, Christie went on a three-day trade mission to Mexico and spent a significant amount of time out of New Jersey while traveling the United States as the then-chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
(Reporting by Megan Davies and Hilary Russ; Editing by Bernard Orr)