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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert meets with Jordan king during trade mission

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue, Deseret News | Posted - Oct. 24, 2017 at 4:57 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert met with Jordan's King Abdullah II on Sunday and will visit this week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of a seven-day trade mission in the Middle East.

Utah businesses export computers and other electronics, as well as machinery, transportation equipment, chemicals and fabricated metal products to those countries.

The United States has a Fair Trade Agreement with Jordan and Israel, both of which have strong science and technology sectors that align with Utah's emphasis in those arenas. Israel is also a global center for high-tech design, research and development, which could provide Utah's Silicon Slopes opportunities to collaborate.

"These trade missions allow us to explore beyond our boundaries and to create new economic opportunities for the state of Utah," said Ben Hart, deputy director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

After a whirlwind day Tuesday involving market briefings and foreign direct investments, Herbert and his delegation attended a reception at the home of David Melech Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

On Wednesday, Herbert will visit the Port of Ashdod, one of Israel's two main cargo ports. The port, south of Tel Aviv, opened in the 1960s and features 12 piers.

The visit will include information on the port's role in Israel's economy and as a gateway for Utah products.

Hart said one of the early positive returns he's hearing about on the trip is Israel's common corporate interests in the manufacturing of composites for the F-35, the most technologically advanced fighter jet available. Utah's Hill Air Force Base will be home to more than 70 of those aircraft by the end of the year, and the state's composite industry is also strong.

Hart said that commonality may provide business opportunities for Utah companies.

Representatives from 40 Utah companies are accompanying Herbert on the trip, including InWhatLanguage, specializing in professional linguistics; forensic imaging company CogniTech Corp.; and GlobalSim Inc., which develops simulators and training systems for ports, the military and the corporate world.

The Utah Economic Israel Council also sent a representative, as did Red Leaf Resources, which is developing an oil sands project at Seep Ridge in eastern Utah.

Utah is home to the largest individual deposits of oil sands in the U.S., while Israel and Jordan are rich in oil shale deposits.

On Thursday, Herbert will meet with Israel's president, the mayor of Jerusalem and the minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources.

The governor also will tour Brigham Young University's Jerusalem Center. The center houses students for a four-month program dedicated to studies related to the Bible, modern Near East history and field trips to neighboring countries.

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This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's name.

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Amy Joi O'Donoghue

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