UK-Israel bilateral trade soared 34 percent to £3.75 billion ($6b.) last year – proving there is no economic boycott of Israel, British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, said Wednesday.
Israeli exports to the UK stood at £2.18 billion ($3.5b.) and British exports to Israel reached £1.57 billion ($2.5b.) in 2011. This made Israel the UK’s largest trade partner in the Middle East and its 29th largest export market overall, according to UK Trade & Investment.
“These figures are big enough to be important to both countries,” Gould told economic reporters at his Ramat Gan residence. “They also implicitly give a very good answer to anyone who talks about economic boycott, and that answer is: ‘What economic boycott?’”
Economic growth is UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s top priority, the ambassador said, pointing out that the government’s 2011 White Paper on Trade and Investment for Growth named Israel as a key strategic partner for the future.
Gould said 250 Israeli companies currently operate in the UK, including Israel Chemicals, Elbit Systems and Teva Pharmaceuticals, and added that one of his focuses was to attract more Israeli firms to establish operations there.
“Like the US, we have an enormous source of capital… [but] unlike the US, we are less than a five-hour flight away, almost in the same time zone,” he said.
Referring to the British embassy’s recently established Hi-Tech Hub – which aims to create technological partnerships between the UK and Israel – Gould said the two countries complemented each other perfectly in a number of industries, including water, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
Gould said next week’s scheduled visit by Culture, Communications and Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey – who will lead a delegation, including executives from the BBC and Samsung – provided a good example of why the UK and Israel work well together.
“Britain is world-class at producing content: TV, Internet, and so on. Israel is absolutely world-class at producing the technology that can take the content to the consumer and monetize it,” Gould said. “There is a fantastic synergy there. Our content and your technology go incredibly well together.”
Israel HaYom adds that Israel just signed a billion dollar contract with China to sell it water technologies for agriculture.