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New UK-Israel trade group starts as UK triggers Article 50

The UK’s International Trade Minister is in Israel for the first meeting of the new UK-Israel Trade Working Group, on the same day Britain chose to notify the EU of its intention to leave.

Lord Price will today meet Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen, following on from the announcement of the formation of the working group during Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to Israel in February.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry, the ministers are expected to discuss the global trade environment and ways to ensure continuity in the future of the UK-Israel trade relationship.

Lord Price said: “My visit to Israel has 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. We will work together to maximise future trade opportunities and ensure a smooth transition as we leave the EU, to keep the UK-Israel trading relationship thriving.”

The UK is Israel’s second most important trading partner after the US, more than 300 Israeli companies have a presence in the UK.

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.”

A statement by the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry said: “With the inaugural meeting of the trade working group, officials will begin work towards a smooth transition to our trading relationship as the UK leaves the EU”.

Bilateral trade between the UK and Israel is now worth approximately £5bn, and during the February visit both May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear their desire to strengthen the trade and investment relationship between the two countries.