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UK-Israel Trade Deal

Volume 699: debated on Thursday 15 July 2021

What plans she has to enhance the UK’s trade deal with Israel following her recent visit to that country; and if she will make a statement. (902798)

We have a strong bilateral trade relationship with Israel worth £5 billion a year. On my recent visit to Israel, I discussed our ambitions for a new free trade agreement to create further opportunities for British business.

My right hon. Friend will know from her visit to Israel that it has the highest number of high-tech start-ups in the world. Moreover, the latest Intel chips in all our computers were designed in Israel by Intel. Does my right hon. Friend have any plans to enhance the trading relationship in high-tech products with the state of Israel?

My hon. Friend is completely right. The UK and Israel are both leaders in technology, from agri-tech to gaming to med-tech, and there are huge opportunities for us to work together. What we will be seeking in the new trade deal with Israel is an advanced digital data and technology chapter that looks to the industries of the future to give both countries more opportunities.

I welcome the Secretary of State’s commitment to sign an advanced free trade agreement with our close ally Israel, and I hope she enjoyed her first ever visit to the country this month. Israel is a growing export market for UK companies, so what steps is she taking to champion UK-made products being sold in Israel, and what more can be done to boost UK exports of things such as cars, machinery and clothing?

The current UK-Israel partnership is already worth £5 billion a year, but we want to turbo-charge that. We are providing practical assistance for UK firms through our trade adviser network, as well as strong support from UK Export Finance to help to finance those exports into Israel.

We all welcome the prospect of an enhanced trade deal with Israel, and I congratulate the Secretary of State on her efforts to secure it. Among the many improvements that we hope the new deal delivers, will she guarantee to remove the clause mistakenly included in the 2019 UK-Israel agreement that prohibits manufacturers in UK freeports from sharing in the benefits of that deal? Can she tell us when we can expect revised deals with the 20 other countries, including Switzerland and Singapore, where the same freeport blunder still applies?

The clauses that the right hon. Lady is referring to are absolutely standard in free trade agreements. Every agreement is the result of a negotiation with the relevant country, and of course we secure the best possible outcome in terms of tariff reductions and rules of origin, but I will be absolutely clear that firms locating in our freeports are free to take advantage of whichever is better for their company: a given free trade agreement or the additional reductions from being in that freeport.