Politicians in the US state of New Jersey are seeking to establish an Irish Trade Commission to enhance trade and economic relations between the two states.

Supporters of the Trade Commission in the American Irish State Legislators Caucus (AISLC) hope to replicate the idea in other US states.

The move follows efforts by the UK government to negotiate trade arrangements with individual US states, to try and boost trade without having a bilateral trade agreement with the United States government.

The economic damage of Brexit - and the unwillingness of successive US administrations to strike new free trade deals with other countries - has led the British government to look for stronger trade links with individual US states.

It signed a memorandum with Indiana earlier this year and is hoping for similar arrangements with up to 20 other US states.

Inside the New Jersey State House assembly chambers (file image)

Now politicians in New Jersey's State Legislature are planning to form a trade commission to boost trade with Ireland.

"This is a 15 member commission that has members appointed by the Governor of the state of New Jersey as well as our Senate President and the Speaker of the General Assembly," said New Jersey Assemblywoman Carol Murphy.

She has introduced a bill to establish the Commission in the New Jersey State House.

"Members will also include a lot of the Irish organisations that are within our state. The purpose of this is to ensure that we can continue the economic growth between New Jersey and Ireland."

The State Trade Commission grew out of the AISLC, a bipartisan organisation of state politicians with an interest in Ireland. It has chapters in every state of the Union.

The Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, Senator Mark Daly, who attended a meeting of the caucus in Colorado, hopes the idea will spread to all 50 states.

Senator Mark Daly says it is important for Ireland to strengthen links with US state legislators

He said it was "important for Ireland to strengthen the links with state legislators" and to support legislators who come to Dublin with the American Irish State Legislators Caucus next year.

Senator Daly said he hoped - by that time - "will have 50 Ireland Trade Commissions established with all the states in America so we will have a competitive advantage over other countries around the world".

The visit he mentions is a plan by the incoming head of the AISLC – Rhode Island Representative Brian Kennedy – to bring caucus to Dublin next August, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

"We are going to have the largest gathering of American Irish legislators to Dublin next year" said Representative Kennedy.

"This will acknowledge and mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. It also acknowledges the successive US administrations who have supported the Good Friday Agreement."

India signed a memorandum with Britain earlier this year

He also sees the visit as a further show of solidarity with Ireland after Brexit. "And as we go forward, we also mark the ability to further support Ireland as they face potential issues moving forward with [Brexit]."

Assemblywoman Murphy also hopes the Trade Commission idea will be replicated by as many US states as possible.

"I think it's extremely important as we move forward to ensure that once this bill gets passed, which I do hope will be shortly, that other states will follow and the end result will be 50 state organisations with a trade agreement with Ireland."

Only the US Federal Government and the European Union have the powers to make formal trade treaties.

But State level trade commissions - and their Irish counterparts, the Department of Trade and Enterprise and local authorities - can focus on deal-making within the existing trade agreements.