Arizona governor in Israel to boost trade, business ties

Doug Ducey meets with political, business, tech leaders on third trip to country

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey in Israel in May 2022 for a trade mission, his third trip to the country since he started as governor in 2015. (Dudu Koren)
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey in Israel in May 2022 for a trade mission, his third trip to the country since he started as governor in 2015. (Dudu Koren)

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is set to wrap up his five-day visit to Israel this week to strengthen economic ties between the Jewish state and the state of Arizona.

Ducey is on his third trip to Israel since he took office in 2015. He was the first Arizona governor to visit when he led an eight-day official trade mission during his first year as governor. Arizona was also the first US state to open a trade and investment mission in Israel in November 2019, an office he visited on his second trip to Israel a month later.

Accompanied by the heads of the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ducey arrived in Israel on Sunday morning to meet with political and business leaders.

Over the past four days, Ducey has met with President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum and US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides.

He’s also met with business leaders and tech entrepreneurs, and toured a large desalination plant to boost business and trade ties with Israel.

“We’ve gleaned some good ideas on border security and water tech,” Ducey told The Times of Israel on Tuesday. The Republican governor’s current mission to Israel is focused on bilateral trade, water, and border security, his office has said.

Ducey has worked over his seven years in office to boost economic ties with Israel, which has a similar arid climate and water and security issues.

“With our shared industries, climates, populations and values, Arizona and Israel are strong, strategic partners,” Ducey wrote on Twitter following a meeting with Israeli business leaders Wednesday.

Ducey has also praised Israel as a water “superpower.”

With about 60% of its land being desert, Israel has pushed to create technologies to make every drop of water count. Today most of its drinking water comes from desalination facilities and it is considered a world leader in all aspects of water technology and management.

The country is home to about 180 startups that operate in the fields of water and wastewater treatment, irrigation, water systems, water network management, desalination technologies, and water quality detection, according to the finder database maintained by Start-Up Nation Central, which tracks the tech industry.

During his trip, Ducey and his delegation toured a water desalination plant in Kibbutz Palmachim by IDE Technologies, a water company that also operates a number of other such facilities in Israel.

“Innovations like these are part of the solution to secure our water future. In January’s state of the state, we said desalination made Israel the world’s superpower – and it’s clear to see here,” Ducey wrote on Twitter after this visit on Tuesday.

Ducey has touted Israel’s water desalination technology as a way to augment Arizona’s supplies, which are endangered by long-term drought and climate change. He wants the state Legislature to approve a $1 billion investment for boosting the state’s water supply this year. Key to that plan is a desalination plant that could cost more than five times that amount.

Ducey has not provided any details of plans for the plant, which would likely be located in Mexico and draw water from the Gulf of California.

Ducey said Israel and Arizona also have a “solid base for cooperation and opportunities” in fields like aerospace and agriculture technology.

Ducey said Arizona may also serve as US or global headquarters for Israeli companies looking to set up shop in the United States, touting lower taxes and fewer regulations.

Israeli companies have generally gone for offices in California, which now boasts 32 Israeli-founded unicorns (private companies valued at $1 billion or more), according to the latest report by the United States–Israel Business Alliance (USIBA), and New York, with 26 Israeli-founded unicorns.

A number of Israeli companies also run operations in Arizona, including US-Israeli 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys and IMNA Solutions, a digital health startup that developed patient-management software.

On Wednesday, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Israel’s Federation of the Israeli Chambers Of Commerce to strengthen the economic and trade relationship, which Ducer said would be “great for Arizona’s economy.”

Bilateral trade between Arizona and Israel stood at over $660 million in 2021, according to the Arizona Commerce Authority.

During his trip, Ducey also paid a Memorial Day visit to Israel’s 9/11 memorial in Jerusalem, visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and some historic sites, and saw some of the latest excavations at the City of David.

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