Trade minister says UK ‘probing and scoping’ for revised Israel trade deal

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Trade minister says UK ‘probing and scoping’ for revised Israel trade deal

Ranil Jayawardena told the commons that trade between the two countries is 'going from strength to strength'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena has told the House of Commons that the government is “probing and scoping” for a revised trade deal with Israel.

Responding to a question from the Conservative MP Bob Blackman on what progress was being made on increasing trade with “our good friend and partner” Israel, the minister suggested progress was being made around “tech in particular.”

“Trade with Israel is of course going from strength to strength,” said Jayawardena, the MP for North East Hampshire, during Thursday’s topical international trade question session.

“We are probing and scoping for better ,deeper trade relations, including a future revised trade agreement which will allow us to do much more in the years ahead.”

It had been former foreign secretary Dominic Raab who had confirmed almost one year ago that the UK had started “scoping, probing for talks for a new higher level ambition trade agreement.”

Raab’s successor Liz Truss has heaped even further gloss on relations between the UK and one of its “closest allies” Israel, suggesting the Jewish state is in her “network of liberty.”

Figures from the year ending March 2020 show that the UK had bilateral trade with Israel amounting to £ 5.1 billion.

Truss had vowed to build deeper relations with Israel in areas including technology, and security.

But in Thursday’s parliamentary session Labour MP Alex Cunningham raised concern that the foreign secretary was “courting Saudi Arabia even more.”

He asked:”When is the government going to get serious on human rights and make it clear until they get their human rights records sorted out they are not going to get trade deals with the UK?”

Jayawardena said Cunningham did “not seem to value trade around the world as a force for good.”

The UK government confirmed it had signed a free trade deal with New Zealand.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the deal will cut costs for exporters and open up New Zealand’s job market to UK professionals.

Labour and the National Farmers Union (NFU) said the deal could hurt UK farmers and lower food standards.

But International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said it “affords opportunities in both directions for great sharing of produce”.



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