Why Georgia’s governor is in Europe this week

Gov. Nathan Deal is in Europe for a weeklong trade mission to drum up more business in Italy and France.

The governor departed for Paris on Saturday with several economic development aides and will head to northern Italy on Tuesday. He will meet with several businesses that already have operations in Georgia, such as Luxottica and Pirelli, and sit down with potential prospects.

The trips include a Wednesday reception hosted by the U.S. consul general in Milan and a Thursday event held by the Trentino Manufacturing Industry Organization to try to build inroads into a region of northern Italy that’s a relatively new market.

State officials see Italy as a solid trade partner with potential to grow. The state shipped about $530 million worth of goods to Italy in 2016 and imported about $1.7 billion in products in 2016. At least 66 Italian firms are operating in Georgia, employing about 700 people.

The governor, nearing his final year in office, has gone on a range of economic development trips during his two terms. His stops include missions to Brazil, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Korea and Panama.

Pat Wilson, his economic development commissioner, said the in-person visits send a “strong signal that we are open for business.”

“A handshake and a face-to-face conversation is an extremely valuable business development tool,” he said.

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