Louisiana Governor Edwards to lead Israel trade mission later this month

On May 22, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed an executive order against boycotts of Israel. He will travel to Israel later this month, to lead a state trade delegation.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards will lead a 24-person delegation on an economic development mission to Israel later this month. The trip was announced on Oct. 11.

This is Edwards’ first official visit to Israel, and it comes just months after an Israel 70th birthday celebration at the Governor’s Mansion, where he signed an executive order barring the state from doing business with companies that participate in boycotts of Israel.

Israel Consul General Gilad Katz attended the ceremony, which was the first-ever fully kosher meal at the mansion, and invited Edwards to Israel.

“Louisiana and Israel share excellent relations and mutual interests in the areas of cyber security, energy, and water,” Katz said. “This visit is not only a representation of those excellent relations, but we hope will also be the springboard to new partnerships and collaborations that will have a lasting impact on both Louisiana and Israel.”

Edwards currently serves as co-chairman of the National Governors Association’s Resource Center for State Cybersecurity with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. The NGA’s national cybersecurity conference will be held in Shreveport-Bossier City in May 2019.

The conference will bring together leaders in the cybersecurity community; educators and students; and gubernatorial administrations from all 50 states to discuss the nation’s cybersecurity efforts. Jeff McLeod, director of the NGA’s Homeland Security and Public Safety Division, will be on the Israel trip.

“Louisiana is positioning itself as a leader in cybersecurity and we’re excited to bring the rest of the states to Shreveport to identify ways to strengthen their cyber posture,” McLeod said. “Having the prime minister’s office and Israeli-based companies involved brings an important international aspect to the work, and we’re eager to find new opportunities for states to work more closely with Israel in addressing the growing cyber threat.”

The mission, in partnership with the National Governors Association, will include Louisiana officials, business leaders and researchers. They will head to Israel on Oct. 26, and Edwards will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other government leaders in Jerusalem on October 28.

Later in the day, Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards will participate in a memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial. After two days in Jerusalem, the Louisiana group will travel to Tel Aviv for more discussions on building business development opportunities for Louisiana companies.

The 24-person delegation will include industry leaders in varied fields, including water management, logistics, higher education, and cybersecurity. In addition to meeting with companies that have existing projects in Louisiana, Gov. Edwards and the delegation will meet with government and industry leaders to discuss opportunities for Louisiana and Israel to partner in these and other sectors.

“It’s a great opportunity for Louisiana when we get such a high-level invitation to visit a key ally and meet with national officials and corporate executives to explore trade and partnership prospects,” Edwards said. “I am looking forward to building a framework for Louisiana to connect with Israel in oil and gas exploration and cybersecurity, as well as other fields, and I want to make it possible for Louisiana companies and organizations to follow up on the inroads we make with this trade mission.”

Edwards added, “We are looking to establish relationships with the Israeli government and its private sector, and we will build on those relationships as we expand the markets for the goods and services that our Louisiana companies provide to the world.”

“International commerce is a cornerstone of our economic development efforts,” Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson said. “We excel at attracting foreign direct investment to Louisiana, and we seek to develop relationships that can provide opportunities for our homegrown industry leaders to export their expertise to other markets.”

Pierson said Israel has not been a major trading partner for Louisiana, “but we are looking forward to exploring how we can expand our markets there in strategic and significant ways.”

The group will return on Nov. 2.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant will also be heading to Israel, leading his fourth mission in five years, starting Nov. 20.