ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to head to Israel for economic development trip

Week-long stay set to include meetings with government officials, local companies that do business in the US state

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp attends a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp attends a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

ATLANTA — Brian Kemp, the governor of the US state of Georgia, is making an economic development trip to Israel.

Kemp spokesperson Garrison Douglas confirmed the trip Wednesday. Douglas said Kemp would be meeting with Israeli companies that do business in the US state, as well as with government officials.

For security reasons, Douglas said he couldn’t provide the exact itinerary, but he said the governor would be leaving this weekend for a week-long visit.

It’s Kemp’s fourth overseas trip as governor and his second in less than six months as he seeks to raise his profile. The second-term Republican governor is trying to steer his party away from former US president Donald Trump, although Kemp has said he’s not running for president in 2024.

In January, Kemp attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying he was pitching Georgia’s economic model and meeting with corporate executives and government officials from around the world.

In 2019, Kemp went to South Korea, where he met with then-prime minister Lee Nak-yon and Hyundai Motor Group officials. Last year, Hyundai announced it was building a $5.5 billion electric vehicle factory near Savannah. In early 2020, Kemp went to Germany, a trip officials credit with sparking his interest in electric vehicles

Israel is a less obvious economic target than South Korea or Germany. In 2021, according to the state’s Department of Economic Development, Georgia exported $280 million in goods and services to Israel, making it the state’s 34th-largest export market. Imports from Israel were $650 million, making it the state’s 29th-largest import trading partner.

Georgia officials say Israeli companies employ more than 1,000 Georgians.

The state has had a trade office in Israel since 1994, and two prior governors have led trade missions in the Jewish state, reflecting its outsize political and religious importance. Former governor Sonny Perdue visited in 2005, while Nathan Deal visited in 2014.

Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson will accompany Kemp. The cost to US taxpayers for the trip isn’t yet available, Department of Economic Development spokeperson Marie Hodge Gordon said.

Kemp’s wife and three daughters will join him and the family will pay for their travel, Douglas said.

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