UK and Israel sign new trade deal

The UK and Israel have signed a new bilateral trade deal that will ensure continuity of trade between the two countries after Brexit.

Israel’s Economy Minister, Eli Cohen and British Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, signed the UK-Israel Trade and Partnership Agreement in Jerusalem yesterday. The agreement replicates the existing EU-Israel trading relationship, as reflected by the EU-Israel Association Agreement, through which bilateral trade has been conducted between the countries for almost two decades.

The agreement will protect trade worth £4bn between the two countries, according to the Department for International Trade. The agreement protects existing preferential market access for important Israeli products, such as pharmaceutical products. Israeli companies are major suppliers to the NHS, particularly in generic medicine.

Dr Fox said: “Britain’s relationship with Israel is stronger than it has ever been with record levels of bilateral cooperation in trade and investment between our two nations. Today’s agreement will further help ensure UK and Israeli businesses, exporters and consumers have the certainty they need to continue trading freely and in confidence as the UK prepares to leave the EU. We look forward to further strengthening an ambitious trade and investment relationship with Israel as we work closer together in the future.”

Mr Cohen said the agreement: “Represents a very positive signal to the business sector,” adding that: “It will be the business people who create the relationship between our countries. We invite more companies here to Israel, and Israeli companies to Britain.”

The agreement will come into effect as soon as the implementation period ends in January 2021, or on 29 March 2019 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

UK-Israeli bilateral trade totalled $9bn in 2017. In the first half of 2018, total bilateral trade between the UK and Israel grew by 8 per cent compared with the first half of 2017 – from $4 billion in 2017 to $4.33 billion in 2018.

A BICOM paper on UK-Israel trade after Brexit concluded that: “There is exceptional potential for growth in bilateral trade and investment, including UK exports to the expanding Israeli market.”