Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp plans economic development trip to Israel

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, seen delivering the State of the State address on Jan. 25, has signed a bill that would ban most gender-affirming surgeries and hormone replacement therapies for transgender people under 18.

Alex Slitz / Alex Slitz

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is making an economic development trip to Israel.

Kemp spokesperson Garrison Douglas confirmed the trip Wednesday. Douglas said Kemp will be meeting with Israeli companies that do business in the state, as well as with government officials.

For security reasons, Douglas said he couldn’t provide the exact itinerary, but he said the governor is leaving this weekend and will be gone for a week.

It’s Kemp’s third overseas trip as governor and his second in less than six months as he seeks to raise his profile. The second-term Republican governor is trying to steer his party away from former President Donald Trump, although Kemp has said he’s not running for president in 2024.

In January, Kemp attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, saying he was pitching Georgia’s economic model and meeting with corporate executives and government officials from around the world.

In 2019, Kemp went to South Korea, where he met with then-Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon and Hyundai Motor Group officials. Last year Hyundai announced it was building a $5.5 billion electric vehicle factory near Savannah.

Israel is a less obvious economic target than South Korea. In 2021, according to the state Department of Economic Development, Georgia exported $280 million in goods and services to Israel, making it the state’s 34th largest export market. Imports from Israel were $650 million, making it the state’s 29th largest import trading partner.

Georgia officials say Israeli companies employ more than 1,000 Georgians.

The state has had a trade office in Israel since 1994, and two prior governors have led trade missions there, reflecting its outsize political and religious importance. Gov. Sonny Perdue visited in 2005, while Gov. Nathan Deal visited in 2014.

Kemp’s wife and three daughters will join him and the family will pay for their travel, Douglas said.