Economy Minister Eli Cohen and British Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox put pen to paper on a bilateral trade continuity agreement in Tel Aviv on Monday, less than 40 days before the UK is slated to exit the European Union.
The agreement aims to ensure seamless continuity in existing trade between the UK and Israel after March 29, when Britain commences its 21-month transition period culminating in its withdrawal from the 28-member union.
More important even than the agreement itself is what it says about our future relationship. And about the way in which we will be able to cooperate in the future, not just on trade, which has improved enormously in recent years, but also on investments in both directions,
The deal is based on the existing EU-Israel Association Agreement, through which bilateral trade has been conducted between the countries for almost two decades, and also includes a government procurement access agreement and a conformity assessment agreement.
The latter, Fox said, is of “particular importance to the UK” as Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva produces one in every six National Health Service prescriptions today, and the agreement provides continuity in the pharmaceutical trade between the two countries.
Britain will no longer benefit from the EU-Israel agreement after Brexit, as will be the case for several dozen other free trade agreements that the EU has negotiated over the last two decades with almost 60 non-EU countries.
“This agreement represents a very positive signal to the business sector,” said Cohen. “It signals continuity and, at the end of the day, it will be the business people who create the relationship between our countries. We invite more companies here to Israel, and Israeli companies to Britain.”