Trade between Britain and Israel is booming. Last year’s two-way trade reached more than £3.81 billion ($5.77 billion), as compared with the £3.7 billion ($5.66 billion) recorded the previous year and on track for UK Trade and Investment’s target of topping £4 billion (roughly $6 billion) by the middle of the decade. Israel remains the UK’s largest individual trading partner in the near East and North Africa.
According to figures from that British body, trade from the UK to Israel fell slightly. However, imports in the reverse direction grew by 6.6 per cent from 2011 to 2012, representing a total of more than £2.3 billion (roughly $3.5 billion).
Israel is one of the top 20 countries investing in the UK, with its investments exceeding those of Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.
Israeli goods popular with Britons included fruit and vegetables, which accounted for £82 million ($124 million) worth of trade, and coffee, tea and spices.
On the flipside Israelis love their British cars, with £130 million ($197 million) worth of automotive goods exported from the UK to Israel, along with £70 million ($106 million) worth of industrial machinery and nearly £20 million ($30 million) worth of iron and steel — an 85 per cent increase on 2011.
Israel also helps keep Britons healthy. Around £1.1 billion ($1.6 billion) worth of Israeli-produced pharmaceuticals arrived in the UK last year.
The UK ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, hailed “tremendous progress” in trade links. “The British government has made it a priority to build economic relations with Israel. My team is pursuing an ambitious agenda of partnership in science, tech and higher education, but there are many other possibilities in the relationship still largely untapped,” The Jewish Chronicle quoted him as saying.
Daniel Seal, chief executive of UK-Israel Business, said the figures showed trade between the two to be in a healthy state, adding that, for Israel, the UK could be a gateway to Europe.
“The interesting thing is how the UK has moved to become one of Israel’s largest trading partners,” he said according to the Jewish Chronicle. “It is strength all round. It is becoming more of a strategic partnership.”