Virginia governor lands in Israel for trade mission

Northam will visit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem before continuing to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Democratic candidate for governor Ralph Northam embraces his wife Pam as he addresses supporters after his election night victory at the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, November 7, 2017. (photo credit: AARON P. BERNSTEIN/ REUTERS)
Democratic candidate for governor Ralph Northam embraces his wife Pam as he addresses supporters after his election night victory at the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, November 7, 2017.
(photo credit: AARON P. BERNSTEIN/ REUTERS)
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam arrived in Israel on Saturday to lead a six-day trade and marketing mission in the Middle East.

Northam, accompanied by Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball and the state’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring, will visit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem before continuing to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

“We live in a competitive global economy, and it is important that we share the Virginia story with businesses and trade partners around the world who are interested in buying our goods and services,” said Northam in a statement prior to departure. “International trade and marketing missions are critical tools to recruit new investment to the Commonwealth and maintain the relationships that will lead to new jobs, more exports by Virginia companies, and shared economic growth.”

The Democratic governor will also be joined by representatives from the Virginia Israel Advisory Board, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Virginia Tourism Corporation.

During his visit to Israel, Northam will host a Virginia reception in Tel Aviv, meet US Embassy officials and visit Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. In the UAE, he will speak at a Dubai Chamber of Commerce event and also meet with embassy officials.

On Wednesday, the governor announced Virginia’s first comprehensive strategic plan for international trade, seeking to boost its international trade output by 50% over the next 15 years and join the leading 20 states for exports by capita by 2035. The southeastern state currently ranks 41st in the country for exports per capita, and 38th in imports as a share of gross state product.

“Virginia has best-in-class export promotion programs to help businesses enter global markets and attract large-scale, export-intensive companies,” said Ball, who was appointed Secretary of Commerce and Trade in April 2018. “The International Trade Strategic Plan represents an unprecedented partnership to move the commonwealth forward as a major player in international trade and help Virginia’s businesses become more competitive in the global marketplace, resulting in increased exports and new job creation across the commonwealth.”

In May, Virginia-headquartered food giant Mars Inc. announced a partnership with Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) to collaborate on the research and development of innovative technologies to tackle global food, agriculture and nutrition challenges.

The R&D agreement will see the manufacturer support Israeli start-ups and the formation of companies, and work with leading Israeli academic institutions, including Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Weizmann Institute and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, to advance foodtech innovation.