Ian Austin

UK-Israel trade deal negotiations start today

It's a huge opportunity and a a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to draw up a deal for the next 30 years

July 21, 2022 14:05

Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has today launched negotiations between the UK and Israel for a new trade deal.

It is the next step in the process to boost trade between the two countries – particularly in innovation and services.

And that should bring our two countries closer together, creating jobs and boosting prosperity in both countries.

Ms Trevelyan launched the next stage of the talks in a meeting with Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely. Officials from both countries will sit down for detailed negotiations over the next few months.

Government changes in the UK and new elections in Israel won’t slow down the process. Politicians on all sides are determined to make swift process and the Israeli economics minister responsible for the negotiations will remain in post until the election, while Ambassador Hotovely will be urging ministers and officials in Jerusalem to make the discussions a priority for whoever forms the next Israeli government.

The benefits for both countries could be huge. Trade between Israel and the UK is already worth £5 billion, supporting 6,600 UK businesses that between them provide 1.7 million jobs.

We already export clothes and cars, power generators and aircraft engines, medical equipment, scientific instruments and pharmaceutical products. 100 million items prescribed by the NHS each year come from Israel. Israeli IT and computer software are used by families and businesses every day.

All that has been achieved with the current trading rules which were drawn up in the 1990s - before the internet transformed every area of the economy, long before the boom in service sectors in both countries and Israel’s emergence as an innovation super-power.

Back then, no one was using smart phones, ordering goods online or delivering services digitally.

Israel’s economy is growing rapidly, increasing 45% over the last 10 years in the services sector alone, particularly in areas like insurance, computer and tech services. Israel’s total imports are projected to double by 2035, and the UK can capitalise on this through a modernised trade deal.

That means the UK services and digital sectors stand to reap the rewards of a fresh, modern agreement. Reducing barriers to trade in the services sectors could lead to huge opportunities for British companies in financial, legal and professional services, fintech, insurance, computer and technology services, for example.

Relations between the two countries have never been stronger and the UK is developing a bespoke UK-Israel Bilateral Roadmap to enhance bilateral cooperation in areas like security, science, tech, cyber and trade.

So this period presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to draw up a new trade deal for the next 30 years, with the UK stealing a march on other European countries and even much larger economies like the US to get a bigger share of Israel’s booming economy.

July 21, 2022 14:05

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