UK-Israel ties spark a record trade year

Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub with Israeli Labour leader Isaac Herzog (Photo: Blake Ezra Photography)

Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub with Israeli Labour leader Isaac Herzog (Photo: Blake Ezra Photography)

MPs and business leaders celebrated a record-breaking year of bilateral trade at the British Israeli Business Awards on Monday.

Deals worth more than $2 billion were struck between the two countries in the first four months of this year - a 6.5 per cent increase on the same period last year.

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy's trade department confirmed that there had been growth in the machinery, chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

"Bilateral trade is constantly going up," he said.

Israeli Labour leader Isaac Herzog, who spoke at the 250-strong event in central London, described the figures as "a very positive sign of normalcy and logic", adding: "The risks and dangers looming in the region have nothing to do with the incredible zest for common business between Israelis and Brits."

Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub said: "It has been a truly remarkable year. We have seen companies on both sides waking up the potential and synergies in a truly remarkable way.

"All of this is taking place against a complex and challenging background in the Middle East."

But UK ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould said: "We are only scratching the surface of what can be achieved."

At the event, also attended by MPs Nick Boles, Alistair Burt and Richard Harrington, Arup was named British Company of the Year, Plus500 was named Israeli Company of the Year and eToro was named Most Promising. Lord Young received the Lifetime Achievement award.

Hugo Bieber, the chief executive of UK Israel Business, which promotes bilateral ties, said the "exceptional" companies had contributed to Israel's "constant advance towards ever more startling innovation".

Over the past four months, more than 50 Israeli companies have met UK counterparts on trade delegations.

This week, a 10-strong group of Israeli financial cyber security companies met British bank heads in London in a bid to cement ties.

Noah Shani, the Israeli embassy trade minister, said: "With London being such a significant financial centre, and with Israel's world-leading strength in cyber security, the synergies are perfectly clear."

Last Thursday, Tsofen, the British embassy's UK Israel Tech Hub and the UK Task Force, led a delegation of Arab technology entrepreneurs from Israel to meet UK investors at London Technology Week.

Last updated: 12:48pm, June 30 2014