An advanced free trade agreement with Israel, updated to be fit for the 21st century, is an opportunity only made possible for the UK through our status as a newly independent trading nation.
As long-time allies, our trading relationship – totalling nearly £5 billion – is already strong. The UK is already Israel’s third largest trading partner with £2.7 billion of British exports heading to Israel in 2020, while around 500 Israeli firms currently operate here.
Now we are taking steps to increase trade and investment by overhauling an agreement inherited from the EU which focuses primarily on goods trade, to the detriment of our world-leading services sectors. Service sectors account for 70% of both economies, but only 35% of our bilateral trade.I want to correct this imbalance and secure an ambitious new agreement that plays to our strengths as two innovative, tech-driven nations.
Last week, I visited Israel to meet with my counterpart Orna Barbivai. Our talks reflected our shared ambition as innovation nations and science superpowers, and illustrated the ways that we can complement each other. When I visited Tel Aviv, I witnessed the construction of the new Tel Aviv metro – the most significant infrastructure project currently planned in Israel, valued at $50 billion. Designing, constructing and supplying underground railways is something UK companies have long-standing experience of, and it’s an obvious example of an area where we should and could be collaborating.