Governor Lincoln D. Chafee today announced that he will lead an official Rhode Island economic trade mission to Israel in November, the first Rhode Island business mission to that country in recent memory.
The Governor has asked the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) to organize the November 4-12 trade mission in partnership with the Consulate General of Israel to New England, the New England-Israel Business Council, the U.S. Commercial Service in Tel Aviv, the John H. Chafee Center at Bryant University, and Nevel International.
The trade mission will focus on fostering stronger ties between Rhode Island and Israel in key industry sectors, with the aim of spurring local job growth through increased Rhode Island exports to Israel and foreign direct investment from Israel to Rhode Island. The mission supports President Obama's National Export Initiative, which strives to double U.S. exports in the next five years.
"This trip is about looking beyond our borders to identify opportunities for Rhode Island businesses to expand and increase employment," Governor Chafee said. "The goal is increased economic activity and job creation for Rhode Island businesses, and I am going to examine all possibilities for realizing that goal, including looking abroad to a key trade ally for strategic partnerships and export opportunities."
Rhode Island and Israel share common interests and strengths in industries such as defense, life sciences, technology, research and development, academia, and tourism.
The agenda for the trade mission includes tours of key Israeli industries; one-on-one company visits; appointments with Israeli government officials; visits to industry trade shows; a networking reception with the U.S. Ambassador; and cultural tours to Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth, and Galilee. Governor Chafee will also attend a series of high-level meetings with business and political leaders while in Israel. More details on those meetings will be made available closer to the mission.
In addition to Governor Chafee, members of the official mission delegation will include RIEDC Executive Director Keith Stokes, Department of Administration (DOA) Director Richard Licht, and Raymond Fogarty, Director of the John H. Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University. Governor Chafee is currently recruiting more than a dozen Rhode Island companies in key industries to attend matchmaking sessions with Israeli companies to explore new markets for their products and services. The Governor has directed the RIEDC to conduct extensive marketing campaigns to promote the Rhode Island delegation in advance of the trip.
As part of the mission, Governor Chafee will also lead a half-day seminar on the advantages of doing business in Rhode Island, a session that will be promoted by the New England Israel Business Council to its membership.
"My government and the Israeli people look forward to welcoming Governor Chafee and his stellar delegation to Israel this fall," said Shai Bazak, Consul General of Israel to New England. "The relationship between Israel and Rhode Island is strong and poised to grow even stronger following Governor Chafee's visit. I am delighted to show the Governor and his delegation, first hand, the wonders of Israel's past, present, and most importantly, future. On this mission, we will look together at key opportunities to make our states thrive and solidify a special partnership that will bring development and growth to both Rhode Island and Israel."
Israel represents the largest U.S. export market -- $11 billion in 2010 -- in the Middle East. Rhode Island currently exports $9 million in goods and services to Israel. Israel's high-tech, pro-American business community is familiar with U.S. business norms, and a multitude of U.S. firms are already doing business in and with Israel.
Since 1996, the RIEDC's International Trade Office has organized and led 27 foreign trade missions, generating $42 million in export sales.
The last Rhode Island Governor to lead overseas missions was Governor Lincoln Almond, who traveled to Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, and the Pacific Rim to help promote Rhode Island products and services. These missions generated $20 million in measured export sales.
In 1985, Israel became the first country ever to reach a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States. The United States-Israel FTA has eliminated nearly all tariffs on trade and administrative import licensing requirements between the two countries. Because of the FTA, Rhode Island companies will gain greater Israeli market access, reduced transaction costs, increased sales, and enhanced export revenues.
Specialized pre-mission training on cultural and economic aspects of doing business in Israel will be offered to all participants, as well as numerous in-country sessions. Training will be supported by the Governor's Workforce Board of Rhode Island.
Rhode Island businesses interested in participating in the economic trade mission should contact Kathy Tufts, RIEDC's Director of International Trade Programs at email@example.com or 401-278-9139. The Israeli Consulate will also have more detail on the mission at its booth at World Trade Day on June 15 at Bryant University; call 401-232-53407 for more details.