UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox MP (right) and British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey at Peres Centre for Peace and Innovation, November 27, 2018.
(photo credit: BEN KELMER)
British trade minister Liam Fox arrived in Israel Tuesday to discuss post-Brexit trade opportunities as London is looking to replicate existing EU free trade or preferential trade agreements with third countries after it leaves the EU.
According to Central Bureau of Statistics figures, Israel and the UK conducted some $9.5b. worth of trade in 2017, with Israel enjoying a trade surplus of some $800m. This is a huge jump in trade over a decade, despite Britain being a center of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activity against Israel.
In 2007, the volume of trade between the two countries was only $4.6b., with Israel importing some $750m. more in goods from the UK than it was exporting.
Fox is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, and will hold meetings with major investors and tech companies.
Yariv Becher, the Economy and Industry Ministry’s commercial attaché in London, said that Israel has been in talks with the UK for over a year to ensure that there is continuity in trade between Israel and the UK once Brexit is enforced.
Becher said that because of uncertainty about how exactly Brexit will play out, Israeli companies – mainly Israeli exporters – are concerned.
“Our message – especially for companies that export goods to the UK – is that the government is doing everything in its power to make sure that the transition after Brexit will be seamless, and that companies will not feel the effect of it, and trade will continue as it was before,” he said.
Currently Israeli trade with the UK is governed by its free trade agreement with the EU.
If, however, the UK leaves Brexit without an agreement, London will have to establish its own trade agreements with third countries. Becher said that there is currently a joint working group with the British government to make sure that even if there is no deal with the EU over Brexit, “we will have an agreement that will come into effect to make sure that the trade platforms that exist now will continue to exist vis-a-vis Israel and the UK.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
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