Daily Mail

Britain wooing Israel to secure new multi-billion-pound trade agreement

- From John-Paul Ford Rojas in Tel Aviv

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.

It would go beyond the current freetrade 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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