Britain woos Israel to secure new multi-billion-pound trade deal: Business secretary heads to Tel Aviv in search of ‘world-class agreement that we haven’t seen before’

Kemi Badenoch is hoping to seal a trade deal with Israel this year as the UK tries to gain an advantage over global rivals in the lucrative services sector.

The Business and Trade Secretary is in Tel Aviv this week with British negotiators to update existing arrangements for the smartphone era.

She said: ‘What we’re looking for is something… world-class that we haven’t seen before – a services-based, high-tech innovative trade agreement including digital, health – all of the innovations that our countries specialise in.’

However, officials stressed that she was seeking ‘the best deal, not the fastest’.

A deal could help UK firms grab some of Israel’s multi-billion-pound infrastructure investments and open up its financial services sector to British banks and financial technology start-ups.

The Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch is in Tel Aviv this week with British negotiators to update existing arrangements for the smartphone era

The Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch is in Tel Aviv this week with British negotiators to update existing arrangements for the smartphone era

It would go beyond the current free-trade arrangement, which is focused on goods rather than services, that Britain inherited after leaving the EU.

Officials claim Brexit has allowed Britain to upgrade that deal with a focus on the sectors that are important to the UK, and access parts of Israeli’s economy that have been closed to foreign powers.

Mrs Badenoch added: ‘We are both services economies and our existing agreement is really about goods – it’s a very old agreement in the 1990s before the internet. 

‘Now we have left the European Union we can be so much more ambitious with you and we can be a lot closer. There’s a lot that we can’t do in the EU that we can do as the UK and Israel.’

Yesterday, she met economy minister Nir Barkat to discuss ‘a modern, innovative services free-trade agreement to mutually benefit both our economies’.

Negotiations began last summer, and the Government said at the time that it aimed to upgrade a relationship that supported more than 6,000 UK firms.

Mrs Badenoch also wants deals with India and to enter the Trans-Pacific partnership – a bloc that includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Singapore.



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