Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Embarks on Economic Trade Mission to Japan, South Korea, Israel, and the United Kingdom Ahead of Potential Presidential Bid

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is embarking on an international trade mission to Japan, South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom.[0] The trip coincides with increased tension between the US and its Middle Eastern ally over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul proposal.[1] While in Israel, DeSantis will be delivering keynote speeches at events hosted by The Jerusalem Post and the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem to commemorate the country’s founding and to mark the 75th anniversary of its formation.[2] In Japan, DeSantis will meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi to discuss the U.S.-Japan alliance and the economic relationship between the two countries.[3] He will also meet with Prime Minister Han Duck-soo in South Korea.[4]

The trade mission is aimed at building on economic relationships that Florida has with each of the four countries, including ways in which economic partnerships can be expanded. With a total worth of over $5.2 billion, the Japanese companies settled in Florida have provided employment opportunities to more than 22,000 Floridians, exceeding 200 in number.[0] Florida has a bilateral trade relationship with Japan that surpasses $6.6 billion, positioning Japan as Florida’s second-largest partner for merchandise trade in the Asia-Pacific area and seventh-largest overall.[5]

DeSantis’ foreign policy credentials will be on display during this trip, as he inches closer towards a 2024 presidential bid.[1] However, the governor’s recent remarks about international issues have drawn scrutiny.[4] DeSantis caused consternation in Europe in March when he appeared to pander to an isolationist tendency in the Republican party by characterizing the Ukraine war as “a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia”, adding it was not a US priority to become further entangled in this dispute.[6]

Despite this, DeSantis is meeting with James Cleverly, the UK foreign secretary, in London at the end of the month as he attempts to burnish his credentials as a credible Republican leader capable of operating on a global stage ahead of a widely expected run for US president.[6] According to Sky News Asia Correspondent Brent O’Halloran, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida is currently in Japan and may make a quick visit to Taiwan prior to his presidential bid.[7]

The governor’s office said in a news release on Thursday that the trip would focus on building upon Florida’s current economic relationships with each country, stating that “this trade mission will give us the opportunity to strengthen economic relationships and continue to demonstrate Florida’s position as an economic leader.” The trip, which will also be attended by First Lady Casey DeSantis, Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd and Florida Secretary of Commerce Laura DiBella, seeks to expand economic partnerships with each of the four countries.

0. “State leaders to embark on international trade mission” The Capitolist, 20 Apr. 2023, https://thecapitolist.com/state-leaders-to-embark-on-international-trade-mission/

1. “Ron DeSantis, facing challenges at home, will test presidential ambitions overseas” CNN, 24 Apr. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/23/politics/ron-desantis-overseas-trip-republican-president/index.html

2. “Netanyahu Says ‘Of Course’ He Will Meet Florida’s DeSantis During Israel Trip – Israel News” Haaretz, 24 Apr. 2023, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/2023-04-24/ty-article/.premium/netanyahu-says-of-course-he-will-meet-floridas-desantis-during-israel-trip/00000187-b258-d86e-ade7-bbddb02d0000

3. “Kishida, U.S. presidential hopeful agree bilateral alliance important” Kyodo News Plus, 24 Apr. 2023, https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2023/04/9b8ade8708c5-japan-pm-likely-us-presidential-hopeful-say-alliance-key-to-peace.html

4. “DeSantis heads abroad to Israel, UK and more before expected 2024 presidential run” Yahoo! Voices, 23 Apr. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/gma/desantis-heads-abroad-israel-uk-191800411.html

5. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis meets with Japan’s Kishida in Tokyo” The Washington Post, 24 Apr. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/04/24/desantis-japan-prime-minister-meeting-kishida

6. “DeSantis to meet UK foreign secretary with eye on US presidential bid” The Guardian US, 21 Apr. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/apr/21/desantis-to-meet-cleverly-in-london-with-eye-on-us-presidential-bid

7. “Republican Hopeful DeSantis to Visit Japan During Global Tour” Bloomberg, 21 Apr. 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-04-21/republican-hopeful-desantis-to-visit-japan-during-global-tour

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