The UK-Israel Trade Relationship: Only Getting Stronger

The UK is promoting a Global Britain, with so many new relationships and agreements between the UK and dozens of other nations being finalised and on the horizon. A trade deal between Israel and the UK was one of the first independently negotiated ties the UK completed and signed post-Brexit. To understand more about this relationship, TechRound spoke to Ofer Fohrer, Israel’s Trade Attaché to the UK to hear more about the deep and special relationship between Israel and the UK.

Why Did You Decide the UK Was the Country for You to Come To?

The UK has a large, vibrant and dynamic economy, one of the best in the world. There is so much going on in the UK and so much that it does as a country and an economy both at home and around the world. There is also a huge amount of work, research and innovation both in tech and business as well as many other areas, that is going on between the UK and Israel which is really exciting for both countries.

Why Do You Think There is Such a Deep and Undoubtedly Special Relationship Between the UK and Israel?

Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for International Trade in the UK commented in recent times about the relationship between the UK and Israel and stated that there is a natural synergy between the two countries. Both Israel and the UK are tech powerhouses and it therefore makes sense, as like-minded nations with similar goals in these areas, to work as closely together as possible. So much so is this the case that the UK signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Israel before many other countries.

There is a great deal of history that really runs deep between the two countries and with the UK and Israel working so closely together, the present and the future are very exciting indeed.

The UK Promotes Israeli Companies Through the Likes of the UK-Israel Tech Hub and Israel are Introducing Countless Innovations and Solutions Specifically to the UK Market – Why Do You Think That Is?

Part of what makes the relationship between the UK and Israel so uniquely beautiful and important is that the two nations do not really compete with each other.

Rather, they both complement each other and help each other succeed in the modern world. Israel thrives when it comes to tech, research and innovation, whereas the UK is one of the best markets in the world when it comes to fintech businesses and technology. The UK is also a superb consumer market; one which is perfect for Israeli companies to gain access to. This means that the relationship and its benefits are truly unique to the UK-Israel relationship.

More Israeli companies, entrepreneurs and investors than ever before are coming here to the UK over the USA in many cases. This is for a whole host of reasons, principally because the UK and Israel are in fact very culturally compatible. Some people don’t realise it, but the UK and Israel are remarkably similar in so many ways and this is reflected in the movement of investors, entrepreneurs, investors and so many others.

The UK is a lot more open to innovation than even Israel is. Israel, as a tech and innovation powerhouse is a brand in itself. UK corporates on the other hand are so much more open than those in other countries around the world to taking on innovative solutions and to be instructed by global innovators with regards to what problems are needed to be solved and how.

Are There Any Standout Examples When It Comes to Success Stories with the UK and Israel Working Together?

Yes, very much so. Israel has, in recent times been very successful in the Health-tech space, because the healthcare system in Israel is far less centralised than that in the UK. Both types of healthcare structures have their merits, with both the UK’s NHS as well as the Israeli healthcare system providing distinct benefits. Israel’s system is less centralised and is delivered in communities.

In the case of Covid-19, using Israeli tele-medicine solutions allow remote work in healthcare to take place. This means that there is less unnecessary contact between patients and healthcare workers, which in the current climate is a very good thing for all. This has worked to protect the NHS better than expected and has also ensured that less people who don’t need to come into hospitals, further protecting both patients and the NHS, all whilst allowing the NHS to carry out its high quality and life-saving care.

Israel has extensive experience in making supply chains more efficient in the retail sector, with the UK having huge experience in making those supply chains run properly over time, to deliver great results. Connecting the tech and innovation produced by Israel with the large, world-respected retailers in the UK has helped improve the whole process and reduce points of contact for both staff and customers during the pandemic.

How is the UK Bringing More to the Israeli Market?

With the UK’s financial services being arguably the best in the world, Israel allows for huge investment opportunities for those in the UK. There is in fact, more investment in Israel from the UK than there is from the USA or Asia. Israeli entrepreneurs and startups are starting up and planning their futures with Europe and the UK at the front of their minds, as opposed to simply focusing on their home market.

This is very unique to Israel and the Israeli market; not starting out by just focusing on their own market, but thinking of external markets from the outset. This explains why Israel is such an outward-looking, international nation. For example, when we look to another entrepreneurial country, South Korea, they are very focused on their home market, with everyone ultimately vying for the attention of a select group of companies (in the case of South Korea: Hyundai, Samsung and a few others.)

Because Israel is such a small country it simply needs to look to other markets and opportunities around the world. They need to branch out and thrive for doing so.

Everything Israeli companies do from day one, from pitch decks to business plans and investor decks and websites are with the world in mind and to set up for investment and input. There are more than 350 research and development sectors in Israel.

When for example, cars were attempted to be manufactured in Israel, it just didn’t quite work out or take off as Israel is just not set up for that. However, as the car and automotive industries started to become a lot more tech-focused and dependent, Israel has started to thrive in the industry. The likes of Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi and many other car manufacturers now have accelerators and increased presence in Israel to harness the country’s innovation and creativity.

Also, as Israel has historically not been able to work with its neighbours as all other countries do, looking further afield is something Israel has become very astute with.

What Does the Future Hold for the UK and Israel?

Even after Brexit, the UK will be working to keep itself at the forefront of various global markets. With over 250 Israeli companies already in the UK, who will need to amend some elements of their functioning because of Brexit, the UK will simply learn to adapt.

The UK is going to remain a large consumer market regardless of Brexit and will be ramping up its manufacturing, something which they can work very effectively with Israel upon. Cybersecurity is another area in which Israel has many solutions, for many UK-market problems. It will open the door for more innovation by Israeli companies for the UK market and more investment, manufacture and agricultural nous from the UK.