Trade ministers from Israel and the UK this week set about smoothing any bilateral wrinkles caused by Britain’s exit from the European Union in 2019.
Trade Minister Lord Price sat down with Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen on Wednesday at the inaugural meeting of the UK-Israel Trade Working Group, an initiative announced by Theresa May and Benjamin Netanyahu in February.
Bilateral trade between the countries is worth around £5 billion a year, but with Brexit two years away, representatives are keen to discuss obstacles and opportunities.
Analysts have said the removal of European Union barriers on food imports from non-EU countries may provide Israeli farmers with the chance to more easily sell their fresh produce in Britain.
But in terms of value, trade in manufacturing and technology is by far the more lucrative sector, with recent billion-pound deals in defence and aerospace.
Price and Cohen will aim to agree on easing travel and work permit for Israelis in Britain. Currently, Israelis working in the UK need a work permit, but many have dual EU citizenship, allowing them to come and go freely.
Price said his recent visit to Israel “reinforced the strong ties that already exist between our two nations and our new working group will look to continue the progress we have seen in our burgeoning trade and investment relationship”.
He added: “We will work together to maximise future trade opportunities and ensure a smooth transition as we leave the EU, to keep the trading relationship thriving.”
Cohen said: “As the UK is Israel’s first export destination in Europe, we see high importance in keeping and enhancing our trade relations also when the UK ceases to be a member of the European Union.
“We should make sure that the business communities in both countries will be able to continue trading with each other by providing them the necessary trade platforms.”
— UK in Israel