With the United Kingdom well on its way to exiting the European Union next year, they are looking for trading partners in a push for free trade—and that includes Israel. That was a key agenda point for British Secretary of State for International Trade Dr. Liam Fox as he met on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
“I’ve been a longstanding supporter of the bilateral relationship and this is an ongoing commitment,” Fox was quoted by an Israeli press release as telling Netanyahu. “…As Britain leaves the EU we want to deepen our strategic relationships with those countries who share our values, who share our concepts of wealth creation, spreading prosperity and security and democracy and rule of law. So I think we have a reasonable agenda to work on.”
The press release noted that Netanyahu welcomed steps by Israel and the UK to advance bilateral trade “on the same terms and in any situation.” Said the Israeli leader, “We want to make sure that we continue to expand our mutual trade under all conditions. I leave those conditions to you. But I think that there is a clear trajectory of increase in balanced trade between the two of us.”
Netanyahu noted that Britain is Israel’s largest trade partner in Europe, saying that both countries “get the benefits and it’s growing and growing and growing… We value the friendship. We value the prospects for the future.”
The exit from the EU places the UK in a potentially unprotected but open trading position in a world where tariffs, trade wars and trade deficits are among the threats to free trade. Fox noted that as they become an independent state of the World Trade Organization, “we want to push our concept of free trade even further in a world where the sobering calls of protectionism is rising.”
He pointed to Israel as a potential partner in that effort. Said Fox, “Two free trade nations like ours need to make the case for global free trade because trade spreads prosperity. It underpins social cohesion. It supports political stability and that’s the collective building block of our security. So it is genuinely a win-win.”
One area in particular on Netanyahu’s mind is the technological field, as he noted that both nations have strengths there.
Said Netanyahu, “We share something else that I think is important for trade and for the future. We share a great technological prowess. We can each do a lot separately, but I think we can do more together.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, November 28, 2018)