Israel and the United Kingdom have agreed on steps to upgrade their free-trade agreement, Israel’s Economy Ministry said on Wednesday. The announcement followed a meeting between Israeli Economy Minister Orna Barbivai and Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

Britain is Israel’s largest trading partner in Europe and its third-largest trading partner overall. In 2021, the countries mutually traded an estimated $7.7 billion.

Trevelyan was in Israel on Wednesday for the first time. She and Barbivai had met once before, in the United Kingdom in June of last year.

“The existing cooperation between the economies of the United Kingdom and Israel is a good basis for deepening and expanding trade relations and economic relations between the countries, and we will work—already in the coming months—to lower trade and import barriers to ensure the realization of economic and commercial potential,” said Barbivai during the meeting.

Trevelyan raised the possibility of upgrading Britain’s free-trade agreement with Israel, which was signed in 2019 and went into force on Jan. 1, 2021, when Britain exited the European Union. The existing agreement with Britain is based on Israel’s old trade agreement with the European Union, which was signed in 1995.

Trevelyan said the two countries need a more up-to-date and modern bond. Barbivai agreed but said that the process of creating a “new generation” free-trade agreement would likely be a complicated process that would take more than six months to complete.

During the meeting, they also discussed the details of an upcoming Israel-U.K. Trade and Investment Summit, which is expected to be hosted by the United Kingdom in the spring of this year.

JNS

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