Boycott, what boycott? UK-Israel trade booming

Britain's ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, was in buoyant mood this week as bilateral UK-Israel trade figures reached £3.75 billion, up 34 per cent in a year, putting firmly in its place the campaign for a boycott of Israeli goods.

Mr Gould said: "There is a lot of noise around boycotts but these figures show that it is just noise, and the trade relationship speaks for itself."

Israel is now the UK's largest individual partner in the Near East and North Africa, and its 29th largest export market world-wide. There were £1.57 billion worth of UK exports and £2.18 billion of Israeli exports in 2011, primarily in pharmaceuticals, machinery, diamonds and technology.

Daniel Seal, chief executive of UK Israel Business, said: "There is a massive amount being done that isn't documented, whether it's Israelis on the board of UK companies or British ownership of Israeli start-ups."

Mr Seal believes that the recent offshore Tamar and Leviathan Israel gas finds could become a "game-changer", enabling Israel to become a major exporter, which could "double trade between the two countries."

On Wednesday, in London, the UK-Israel Tech Council held its first meeting, jointly chaired by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, and Avi Hasson, Israel's chief scientist.

Last updated: 3:31pm, March 15 2012