British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (L) holds a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the latter's office in Jerusalem on July 16, 2015..
(photo credit: DEBBIE HILL / POOL / AFP)
The perception of the boycott movement of Israel is overstated, and in terms of Israeli-British ties, “what we are seeing is the exact opposite of boycotts,” British Ambassador David Quarrey said on Wednesday.
Quarrey, speaking to a group of journalists, said that annual trade between the two countries has now reached the record level of nearly $7 billion.
According to Central Bureau of Statistics numbers, in 2014 the two countries conducted $6.3b. worth of trade, with almost $4b. of that being Israeli exports to the United Kingdom.
Britain, which has emerged as a center of Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment activity against Israel, was in 2014 the third largest market for Israeli exports in the world, following the US and Hong Kong.
“All the talk of boycotts is extremely frustrating at time when we perhaps have the greatest breadth and depth of the relationship than ever before,” the ambassador said.
Quarrey said that not only is the number of Israeli companies using the UK as a bridge into Europe growing, but that in 2014 more Israeli companies were listed on the London Stock Exchange than from any other country, with the exception of the UK.
He also said that there is now unprecedented scientific cooperation between the two countries, with increased funding for projects.
What is particularly interesting about the trade figures is that they have increased significantly since Britain implemented a voluntary scheme for settlement labeling in 2009.
“We have seen roughly a doubling of imports of Israeli goods since then,” Quarrey said. “This shows that labeling has nothing to do with boycotting.”