I welcome the right hon. Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds) to his place. It is a pleasure to be working with him, and I look forward to discussing some of the many exciting things that will be going on in the Department for International Trade in the months ahead.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool South (Scott Benton) is aware, on Monday the Prime Minister announced plans to enhance our trade and investment relationship with Israel. Last week, I held productive talks with the Israeli ambassador on the matter, and I look forward to strengthening that important trading relationship.
As the Prime Minister rightly said on Monday, our close co-operation with Israel on security, science and technology benefits not only our two respective nations, but the entire world. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the new strategic agreement signed between the UK and Israel will further enhance those ties over the next decade, and will she update the House on when we can expect the consultation period for the new bilateral free trade deal to begin?
The strategic agreement signed with Israel is the starting post for a series of activities that will deepen our trading relationship. We will be opening a public consultation on our enhanced bilateral free trade agreement in January, and we look forward to hearing the views of businesses and stakeholders across the UK on their priorities for that deal. We will also be hosting a joint innovation summit with our Israeli friends in March next year, in order to support new technology ideas.
Is the Secretary of State aware of the huge dynamic in Israeli universities? Will she make every effort, including with resources, to encourage partnerships between UK and Israeli universities, in terms of research, development and innovation?
As I said, we will be hosting a joint innovation summit in March with our Israeli friends in those areas of research and development, as mentioned by the hon. Gentleman. How we can work together between our universities is very much on our list of priorities, and I am also working closely with the Secretary of State for Education to ensure that we link in the international relationships that we want to grow with Israel.