Britain’s minister for international trade made Israel his first port-of-call this week, after the 27 members of the European Union signed off on the terms of Britain’s departure from the bloc.
Liam Fox met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday in a bid to replicate or improve on the trade relations currently enjoyed between the two countries as part of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
Trade between Israelis and Brits has skyrocketed, with Scotch whisky exports alone increasing by 300 percent in the last six years, while Israeli-made generic pharmaceuticals continue to act as a crucial pipeline supply for the NHS.
“Ensuring continuity for our businesses is the best foundation for growing two-way UK-Israel trade and investment,” said Fox.
“The complementary nature of our economies in areas like science and technology, where we are both global leaders, gives us an obvious opportunity to increase our already record-breaking levels of bilateral trade.”
The UK Government’s proposed Brexit deal allows Fox to strike his own deals around the world, with Israel one of about 70 countries with which the UK would seek to first replicate the trade terms currently enjoyed by its membership of the EU.
In recent years, London has been the preferred listing destination of Israeli companies setting up abroad, with 300 firms setting up shop here, but it is unclear whether this will continue after the UK leaves the single market.
As an ardent Brexiteer, one of Fox’s first ministerial actions upon assuming control of the Department for International Trade was to set up a UK-Israel Trade Working Group “to identify and remove barriers to trade between the two countries”.
The minister last year described himself as “as longstanding friend” of Israel, which he said would be a “key partner” in Britain’s future outside the EU.
Great to start my first day in Israel by meeting some of the UK’s biggest Israeli investors. Since the 2016 referendum, there has been £400 million of Israeli investment in the UK, creating 1,300 jobs across the country. #InvestInGREAT #FreeTrade pic.twitter.com/NMz6IoqIBP
— Dr Liam Fox MP (@LiamFox) November 27, 2018
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