Alabama prepping for Israel trade mission with virtual event in May

Image courtesy Alabama-Israel Task Force

On March 12, the Alabama Department of Commerce and the Export Alabama Alliance announced that they will host a virtual trade mission to Israel on May 10 to 12, in preparation for an in-person trade mission to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to take place later this year.

Alabama companies already exporting to Israel in addition to those looking to get started in this market are welcome to apply. The virtual trade mission is not meant to replace the in-person trade mission to Israel, but rather to better prepare companies for it.

Participating companies will have the opportunity to meet with potential business partners on one-on-one business matchmaking meetings in a virtual setting. The trade mission will be multi-industry.

“At a time when businesses face continued challenges globally and domestically, we are looking to deepen and strengthen ties with our long-term ally, Israel, which is a logical choice for a virtual trade mission,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

During a 2019 forum at Alabama Power in Birmingham, “Doing Business with Israel: Opportunities for Alabama-Israel Technology Partnerships,” Canfield said they were planning an Israel trip for Spring 2020, because “it’s actually been a while since we’ve had a trade mission” to Israel. Covid made any travel to Israel impossible last year.

Alabama’s exports to Israel in 2020 totaled $49 million, an increase of nearly 27 percent from 2019.

“We have found that virtual events leading up to an in-person trade mission can be very beneficial in that they allow companies to make initial contacts, learn more about the market to be visited and pave the way for a more productive trip,” said Hilda Lockhart, director of the Office of International Trade for the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Key target sectors for U.S. exports to Israel include safety and security, healthcare, information and communication technologies, and defense. Huntsville has also been a focal point for development of Israel’s missile defense systems.

In 1997, Governor Fob James led a trade mission and engaged a trade representative in Israel. A 2005 mission was to be led by Governor Bob Riley, but while the mission went on, he remained in the state due to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Mississippi’s previous governor, Phil Bryant, led four trade missions to Israel over five years, and held Israel-focused Mississippi business forums in Jackson in 2015 and Meridian in 2017.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards led a trade mission to Israel in 2019.