Amid conflict, Utah group cancels trade mission to Israel
Visit • Rise in violence prompts governor to look at rescheduling trip.
Published: November 21, 2012 06:37PM
Updated: November 21, 2012 06:44PM
An elderly Palestinian walks next to a destroyed building after an Israeli strike in Gaza City, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. Efforts to end a week-old convulsion of Israeli-Palestinian violence drew in the world's top diplomats on Tuesday, with President Barack Obama dispatching his secretary of state to the region on an emergency mission and the U.N. chief appealing from Cairo for an immediate cease-fire. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development is postponing next month’s trade mission to Israel.

It cited the increasing conflict between Israel and Hamas as the reason for the delay.

“We’ve never had to cancel a trade mission before. Of course, we’ve never had 150-millimeter rockets being fired every six minutes into the country we were planning to visit, either,” said Michael Sullivan, spokesman for GOED.

Originally planned for Dec. 8 through Dec. 12, the mission’s goal was to expand economic opportunities in Israel for Utah businesses.

Sullivan said about 60 Utahns, including representatives from 15 Utah companies, had signed up for the visit.

“We recognize conditions are unstable and less than ideal for our purposes on a state-led trade mission,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement. “We earnestly hope and pray for a peaceful resolution for all people in the region.”

Herbert said he is committed to eventually leading a trade mission to Israel and that an effort will be made to reschedule.

Israel is Utah’s 25th-largest trading partner, with the state exporting $53.9 million in manufactured goods to that country in 2011, a 21 percent increase from 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Utah’s exports include industrial machinery, electric machinery, optical instruments and perfumes and cosmetics.

Utah has sent trade delegations to Israel before.

In 2009, then-Gov. Jon Huntsman led a trade mission with the goal of expanding the strategic relationships between the state and Israel. At the time, Huntsman said he saw a lot of potential in partnerships on alternative energy development and water conservation, both of which he said were issues of importance to the state’s economy.