This week, George Eustice MP, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), confirmed that after leaving the European Union, the UK can “revisit and improve existing agreements” on trade cooperation with Israel.
In response to a written question from Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, who asked about the potential for future collaboration between the UK and Israel in the agricultural sector after Brexit, the Minister said that currently the UK works with Israel “through multilateral research programmes such as the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change (FACCE-JPI) and the STAR-IDAZ International Research Consortium on Animal Health”.
Mr Eustice said that “the UK, as part of the EU, is currently a member of around 40 EU trade agreements covering over 55 countries; one such country is Israel”. He underlined that “after leaving the EU, the UK will be able to implement an independent trade policy”, which would “make it possible to revisit and improve existing agreements where appropriate”.
Since 2000, the EU-Israel Association Agreement has constituted the framework for cooperation between the EU and Israel, including provisions on free trade and the strengthening of economic cooperation. Other agreements between Israel and the EU secure cooperation in scientific, technical and agricultural sectors.
In February 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to establish a new UK-Israel Trade Working Group to strengthen the bilateral trade and investment relationship, and prepare for a post-Brexit trade deal between the two countries.
A recent report analysing UK-Israel bilateral trade highlighted that in the agricultural sector, “there is an opportunity to go beyond current Israel-EU terms by establishing different quotas which could allow Israeli fruit and vegetables to access a larger share of the UK market”, as well as “lower prices for UK consumers by increasing competition with southern Europe”. Read the full report here.