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Trade Relationship with the Middle East

Volume 692: debated on Thursday 15 April 2021

Britain has strong bilateral trading relationships with our friends in the middle east and a clear ambition to deepen them. As my right hon. Friend knows, we are undertaking a joint trade and investment review with the Gulf Co-operation Council, with which total trade stood at over £33 billion in the year to September 2020. The Government have also signed trade agreements with Jordan and Lebanon, and just last month we entered into an agreement with the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi to provide £1 billion of investment into British life sciences.

Today is Yom Ha’atzmaut—Israeli independence day—so I hope that my hon. Friend will wish Israel happy independence day. The normalisation of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain last year was a hugely positive step not only for regional peace but for commerce, tourism and cultural exchanges. Does my hon. Friend agree that the United Kingdom is well placed to support our ally Israel in developing ties in the region, and will he explore the opportunities that these new trade relationships could bring to our country?

Indeed I do join my right hon. Friend in wishing all Israelis a happy independence day. He is right to recognise the strong relationships that we have with the state of Israel. We welcome the normalisation of relations, which creates many opportunities for increased trade, tourism and cultural links as well. Britain is well placed to support Israel in this endeavour. Total trade between us was £4.9 billion in the year to September 2020, up from the previous year. We are building a framework for a new bilateral science partnership. In addition, the tech hub based in the British embassy in Tel Aviv continues to partner Israeli expertise with British companies, delivering significant benefits to the British economy.