Envoy highlights opportunities of Israel trade
Israel is keen to work with innovators and businesses outside London – and the north has several synergies, Israeli ambassador Tzipi Hotovely said last week.
Mrs Hotovely, speaking at UK-Israel Business’ breakfast club in Leeds, said there was £4.8bn worth of trade between the UK and Israel.
“Much more can be done,” she said. “Post Brexit there is opportunity because the UK is building new partnerships. Israel is one of the first countries that can create innovation-based trading. And this is what we’re working on.”
The ambassador, who also attended an innovation event in Manchester and a cybersecurity event in Leeds, said trade treaty negotiations began last year and expected results within two years.
“Fintech will be a main ingredient of the trade deal,” she said. “Both our countries have economies based on services. I think one of the most important things we can do is cooperate to save lives. Nothing’s more important than health –Covid proved that. I think we can do more together, the NHS here and public health services in Israel.”
Keynote speaker Lord Austin of Dudley, the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Israel, said trade between the UK and Israel was at a record high.
“Our relationship is stronger than it’s ever been. record levels of cooperation, trade, technology, and innovation,” he said. “Hundreds of businesses, thousands of jobs in the UK, depend on trade and investment between our two countries.”
Northern companies had exported £210m worth of goods to Israel, Lord Austin said. Israeli investment in the UK totalled £1.2bn between 2014 and 2021, creating 15,000 jobs, and more than 1.7m British people working in companies exporting to Israel.
“We’re going to build on this, as the ambassador said, with a new trade deal which will open up new markets and provide good, new, well-paid jobs in both countries for many more people, especially in areas like financial services, infrastructure, technology, life sciences.”
But, he said, the current trade arrangements dated back to the 1980s, long before the digital revolution and before much of the growth in service industries.
“There’ll be massive opportunities in areas like AI, cybersecurity defence, or the lowering tariffs on British exports in food and drink.”
In an interview following the breakfast meeting, UK-Israel Business director Colin Glass OBE said he saw great synergies between university research in Israel and in West Yorkshire.
“That is important in building relationships with companies who want that technology and vice versa,” he said. “And particularly in health tech, there’s a lot of good stuff coming out of Israel that is part developed, in its early stages, which can work with universities to develop that. That’s an important area, and the whole area of tech. Israel is a tech nation, really, and we have to work hard to make sure, as the ambassador said, that London is not the centre of the country.”
UK-Israel Business plans a trade mission to Israel next year to further explore opportunities.