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Gearing up for presidential run, DeSantis heads to Israel, Japan, South Korea and the UK

DeSantis to speak in Jerusalem on April 27 as part of an international trade mission

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a prospective Republican U.S. presidential candidate in 2024, addresses a university convocation at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, Apr. 14, 2023. (Photo: REUTERS/Justin Ide)

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – Fresh off his recent book tour, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Thursday that he will lead an international trade mission this month, which will include visits to Israel, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

On April 27, DeSantis will speak at a conference hosted by The Jerusalem Post and the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem.

In 2019, the Florida governor led a week-long trade delegation to Israel.

“I promised to be the most pro-Israel governor in America and our bold agenda for my upcoming Business Development Mission to Israel includes many historic firsts and strengthens Florida’s ties with Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” DeSantis tweeted at the time.

He also issued the following statement in 2019: “During his time in the U.S. Congress, Governor DeSantis led the successful charge to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem and advocated for U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty of the Golan Heights. Since taking office, Governor DeSantis followed through on his commitment to enhance security at Jewish Day Schools and took a strong position opposing the BDS movement including commercial discrimination against Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria by invoking Florida’s anti-BDS law against Airbnb.”

During his one-visit in Israel, DeSantis will be joined by his wife Casey DeSantis, Florida’s Secretary of State Cord Byrd and Florida’s Secretary of Commerce Laura DiBella.

The trip – spanning the Middle East, Asia and Europe – is designed to expand Florida’s economy and boost trade between the Sunshine State and these three regions.

DeSantis' visit comes amid speculation that the governor is preparing to announce his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination later this spring. The visit also may be designed to burnish DeSantis’ foreign policy and economic credentials.

“Florida has the 15th largest economy in the world, and that is because our state has worked to create partnerships with other countries to create jobs and boost the economy,” said DeSantis. “This trade mission will give us the opportunity to strengthen economic relationships and continue to demonstrate Florida’s position as an economic leader.”

Yesterday, the governor’s office issued a statement providing more facts and figures about Florida’s trade relationship with each country, published below.

Japan

While in Japan, the Governor, First Lady, Secretary Byrd and Secretary DiBella will be meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, as well as business executives.

During this trip, the governor will build on discussions that took place during the Southeastern United States – Japan Conference, which was held in November 2022 in Florida.

Japan is the 6th largest foreign investor in Florida, with more than 200 Japanese companies employing more than 22,000 Floridians with holdings totaling more than $5.2 billion.

Bilateral trade between Florida and Japan exceeds $6.6 billion, making it Florida’s 2nd largest bilateral merchandise trade partner in the Asia-Pacific region and Florida’s 7th largest partner overall.

South Korea

Following Japan, the delegation will travel to South Korea where the governor will meet with government leaders, including Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Dong-Yeon and Prime Minister Han Duck-soo.

Merchandise trade between Florida and South Korea exceeds $1.3 billion, making it Florida’s 7th largest bilateral trade partner in the Asia and Middle East region. South Korea imported more than $341.6 million from Florida in 2022, while Florida imported more than $951 million in goods from South Korea in 2022.

Israel

The delegation will then travel to Israel on Thursday, April 27 where the governor will deliver the keynote address at an event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of Israel.

While in Israel, the governor and the delegation will meet with government leaders and Israeli companies that have invested or are interested in investing in Florida, including INSIGHTEC.

INSIGHTEC is an Israeli company that has partnered with a consortium of Florida universities to use their innovative technologies to study Alzheimer’s disease.

Bilateral trade between Florida and Israel reached $651 million in 2022, demonstrating the growing partnership between the two countries.

Over the past five years, bilateral merchandise trade has grown by 65%, and over the last ten years, bilateral trade has grown 176.1% between Florida and Israel.

Israel is the 19th largest foreign investor in the state of Florida, with Israeli affiliates estimated to have total holdings of $647 million.

There are more than 50 Israeli companies supporting more than 2,400 jobs in Florida.

Florida has one non-stop flight from Miami International Airport to Tel Aviv which helps to support business relationships and promote tourism.

United Kingdom

The governor will end the trade mission with a visit to the United Kingdom (UK).

The governor and delegation will meet with business executives from companies with significant investments in Florida and government leaders, including the Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom, James Cleverly.

The UK is one of Florida’s most significant economic partners and Florida ranks among the top American state for British businesses and tourists.

British companies account for 67,000 jobs in Florida, making the UK the top foreign investor in Florida.

Each year, Florida companies supply a wide range of products to the UK, including aviation and aerospace products.

British affiliates are estimated to have total holdings of more than $18 billion in Florida with more than 350 companies that employ 67,000 people.

The UK is Florida’s 8th largest trade partner with bilateral trade reaching $5.8 billion in 2022, with bilateral trade growing by 119% over the last five years.

Florida also has a strong tourism relationship with the UK.

In 2022, more than 1.1 million people visited Florida from the UK.

The UK consistently ranks as the 2nd largest group of international visitors to Florida on an annual basis.

There are more than 79,000 British-born residents in Florida.

Florida has nine direct flights to England and Scotland from three major Florida airports.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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