Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

Life in Israel

tea
Israeli commercial life and society

In addition to my work as a business coach, one of my interests is blogging about life in Israel. This is a country full of contrasts – over eight million citizens living in an area the size of Wales. You can see snow and the lowest place on the globe in the same day. Although surrounded by geopolitical extremes, Israel has achieved a decade of high economic growth. My work brings me in contact with an array of new companies, exciting technologies and dynamic characters. Sitting back with a relaxing cup of strong tea (with milk), you realise just how much there is to appreciate in the Holyland. Large or small operations, private sector or non profit, my clients provide experiences from which others can learn and benefit.

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Israel’s unexpected export services

The Israel Britain Chamber of Commerce is one of those old fashioned chambers, where a smile and firm handshake takes you a long way.

This week, it organised the 8th Annual UK Real Estate Convention, kindly hosted at the home of the ambassador David Quarrey. In his welcoming speech, Quarrey rolled off the numbers to perfection. For example, 2016 and 2017 saw record trade between the two countries. 2018 is not far behind.

What struck me was that roughly two billion shekels – say £0.45bn – is invested every year by Israelis in the British property market. As if to prove the point, David Fattal delivered a presentation as guest of honour. Just this week, the Fattal Group announced the purchase of the Midland Hotel in Manchester.

The Midland …… will be a significant addition to the Fattal group’s portfolio of properties in the UK, which will number 9,309 rooms in 44 hotels when the deal is completed.

With a touch of ironic timing, earlier this week, Graham Stuart, who is Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade, declared that:

The UK and Israel have a strong and important trading relationship, and we are committed to strengthening it. The commercial team in our Embassy in Tel Aviv actively promote UK-Israel trade in the medical sector and are sponsoring a delegation of 6 Israeli importers of medical devices to meet with UK companies at the upcoming Medica Trade Exhibition this year.   There is also extensive bilateral collaborative medical research between the UK and Israel. The UK-Israel Tech Hub, based at the Embassy, helps to create tech and innovation partnerships across several sectors, including healthcare.
Next month, the Embassy is organising a visit by a delegation of senior NHS officials to Tel Aviv to meet with Israeli healthcare companies who are looking to invest in the UK.

The strength of British-Israel trade

The amount of Israeli investment in the UK has been growing since a UK government scheme called the UK Israel Tech Hub was launched in 2011……..Anglo-Israeli business deals totalling £85m have now been secured through the hub. Meanwhile, hundreds of British and Israeli companies have been involved in its various activities and events. During 2016-17 this included more than 150 UK and 490 Israeli firms.

Thus, summarised an extensive review by the BBC of the growing tech ties between Israel and the UK.

To give some context, the item comes during an interesting week for relations between the two countries. The British affirmed in the House of Commons that “The UK has announced £17 million of funding over the past four months, in addition to our original budget of £28.5 million, to protect UNRWA’s vital services (for the Palestinians).

And the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has continued to oppose anti-Semitism, while talking the languages of its proponents (sic). This sinister approach was dissected in a satirical rebuke by award winning author, Howard Jacobson, and then in an eloquent speech by former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks in the House of Lords.

(As if to confirm their concerns and to highlight the depth of malicious debate in the Labour Party,  TUC delegate Mark Serwotka has just declared that Israel has tried to “create a story that does not exist”. His words and tone are the plagarised language of the fake ‘Protocols of Zion’ from Tsarist Russia.)

So let us just step aside and see how much each country contributes to the success of each others’ economy and society as a whole.

  • It is less than a month ago that the largest trade deal between the UK and Israel was declared. Rolls Royce is “supplying Trent 1000 engines to power a fleet of 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft that have been ordered by EL AL Israel Airlines”. That is a lot of work for a lot of British jobs.
  • Staying with flight, the UK’s Effective Space, a startup developing a satellite servicing system (drones), has announced an agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to provide technical and financial support.
  • In the world of finance, the cities of London and Tel Aviv have signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding to bolster FinTech and cyber security cooperation between two leading global centres for digital innovation.

And so the list goes on. As a British minister stated in Parliament on 13th September: The UK-Israel Trade Working Group is making positive progress towards transitioning the EU – Israel Association Agreement, to maintain our strong trade and investment relationship with Israel.

I think it is worth concluding with extracts from a debate from the same day led by Dr. Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for international trade. To quote the salient points:

From online banking security to prescription drugs to cherry tomatoes, Israel has become an international technological and trade powerhouse. Every day, millions of Britons are benefiting from Israeli inventions and produce, even if they do not realise it.

Our trade with Israel currently stands at £3.9 billion in goods and services, with our exports up 7% in the past year. The Prime Minister met the Israeli Prime Minister in February 2017 to set up the joint trade working group, and I would like to thank the Israeli Government for their close liaison. We are dedicated to the continuity of trade and, once we leave the European Union, to having an ambitious new trade agreement that will provide even greater benefits than those we currently have.

The tech hub (see above) is there to help British businesses to get access to the innovations that come out of Israel across a range of sectors. It is worth pointing out that Israel is an extraordinarily innovative country and has more start-ups per capita than any other country on the planet. Where we can get UK businesses across a range of sectors to get access to such innovation, it is always a positive outcome.

The latest computers used in the House of Commons use Intel 7 and Intel 8 cores and above, and Shazam, Skype and FaceTime all use technology developed in Israel.

As I (Dr Fox) have already said, the key to that is the UK-Israel tech hub. This relates not only to the area of computers, which my hon. Friend has mentioned, but to FinTech, cyber-security, biomed, retail technology and the creative industries. These are all prime areas for co-operation between the United Kingdom and Israel, and we should celebrate that relationship and the benefits that it brings to both our populations.

Now if Mark Serwotka, a Corbyn ally, would have their way on Jews in Israel, how many British workers would lose their jobs. How much worse would British consumer become?