James Clarke

How you can help make the UK-Israel free trade agreement happen

The Department for International Trade is seeking information on current barriers to trade with Israel


Global business logistics import export background and container cargo freight ship transport concept

March 29, 2022 13:40

In February, the Department for International Trade launched our “Call for Input” on what we should prioritise in our trade talks with Israel. The talks will begin later this year, but there is still time to send us your views and help shape our discussions before they begin. 

As the Chief Negotiator for the UK-Israel Free Trade Agreement (FTA), I want to understand any current barriers to increasing trade with Israel. 

This deal is a hugely exciting project with the potential to unlock significant growth in what is already a flourishing trade and investment relationship between our two nations.

The UK is Israel’s second largest trading partner, with £2.9 billion worth of British exports going there in 2020, and an overall trade relationship worth £4.8 billion. 

Around 500 Israeli firms operate in the United Kingdom, creating thousands of jobs in high value sectors, while significant investment inflows are going into areas outside London helping to level up the country.  

I won’t prejudge what the feedback will suggest, but here are 3 potential benefits an upgraded UK-Israel FTA could bring to UK businesses:

1.   Services. The current UK-Israel agreement - rolled over from the EU - has very limited services provisions. Services account for around 70% of both the UK and Israeli economy, but is only 35% of total bilateral trade. That provides huge opportunities to turbo-charge services trade. This could be through things like recognising each other’s qualifications or securing broader and deeper access to provide services in Israel.

2.   Innovation and tech. As two advanced economies, there are opportunities to go further on areas such as intellectual property, digital trade and innovation cooperation. We know there are shared talents across British and Israeli businesses, and an updated FTA can support these to thrive. 

3.    Increasing Investment. A more ambitious deal could tackle restrictions on investment, boosting sectors such as life sciences, creative industries and electronics, while supporting greater Israeli investment outside London.

To help make these benefits a reality, we need to hear from businesses of all sizes. 

Negotiators love detail – so please don’t be shy in telling us the specifics of what is holding back your potential to increase trade with Israel.

Nothing is too techy for a trade negotiator, so if you worry about technical barriers to trade, rules of origin, or local restrictions on investment, I want to know.

The consultation runs until 30 March. 

We’ll be collating the responses and will publish our objectives as part of a formal response to the consultation, along with the expected economic impact and benefits of the new trade deal. The formal negotiations will kick off soon after.

And our trade engagement with Israel doesn’t end here.  In May, we will be hosting the UK-Israel Innovation and Investment Summit, bringing together government ministers and industry experts to share insight on topics from cyber security to healthtech. 

The UK is committed to a long term and mutually beneficial economic relationship with Israel. Our upcoming FTA negotiation is a huge opportunity for both countries to take that relationship to the next level.

To learn more, and take part in the consultation on our upcoming negotiations, visit:

James Clarke is Chief Negotiator, UK-Israel FTA

March 29, 2022 13:40

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive