U.K. Agrees to Free Trade Deal With Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -
israel u.k.
(Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann)

The road ahead for Brexit is far from clear, but Britain sought to remove at least some of the uncertainty on Wednesday by announcing its intention to conclude a free-trade agreement with Israel.

The U.K.’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, alongside Israel’s minister of the economy Eli Cohen, informed the World Economic Forum at Davos, “I’m delighted that as Britain prepares to leave the European Union and to ensure continuity for our business in both directions, we’ve reached agreement in principle today with our colleagues in Israel and I’m very grateful to Minister Cohen for all the help that he’s given us.”

Cohen said, “I want to thank you personally Minister Fox for all that you have done so that we will be able to conclude today the free trade agreement between Israel and Britain. Only in the last year in 2019, our trade with you surpassed $10 billion for the first time in history, and I am sure that this free trade agreement will help us to accelerate and increase even more and strengthen our economic relationship.”

Fox has been criticized for failing to reach any free trade agreements ahead of Brexit, to cushion what might be a no-deal departure from the E.U. if parliament cannot agree on a deal with Europe.

Israel is only the first, though. Fox is expected to meet with other trade ministers at Davos, including from South Korea, Hong Kong, Canada and Colombia.

The government is seeking continuity of existing EU free trade agreements, which will not apply to the U.K. if it leaves with no deal at the end of March.