More than ever, Israel represents one of the UK’s key strategic business partners. Despite Israel’s size, annual bilateral trade has consistently been in excess of £2 billion over the last 10 years, and should reach £3 billion by 2015. Two way trade between the UK and Israel in 2011 indicated a cumulative increase of 22% on the 2010 figure. The UK and Israel have several economic treaties including the avoidance of double taxation and bilateral duty free arrangements.
The Israeli economy has once again proved its steely resilience, despite acute global strains throughout, with a GDP growth of 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Estimates for GDP per capita continue to stand at a comparatively healthy $31,100 per annum. As unemployment rates escalate across the world, Israeli figures have shown a steady decline and currently stand at 5.4%. A buoyant Shekel, despite facing stern challenges, has consistently held its own against the major currencies. Concurrently, Israel’s foreign currency reserves rose in 2011 standing at $68.42 billion at the close of the fourth quarter.
In recognition of the country’s consistent performance, ratings agency Standard and Poor’s raised Israel’s long-term foreign currency sovereign credit ratings to ‘A+’. The agency lauded the country’s, ‘prosperous and resilient economy, strong institutions, on-going fiscal consolidation, and robust external performance’. The MSCI index reflected similar confidence, and recently ranked Israel 3rd out of 24 developed countries in terms of projected growth.
The UK is the financial capital of the world and its 6th largest economy. Its business acumen, management experience and international marketing capabilities make it a natural gateway to the European market and an ideal partner for Israeli businesses. Currently, more than 300 Israeli-related firms operate in the UK, of which 34 are listed on AIM and 11 on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange. Additionally, over 75 UK companies have offices in Israel.
Israel’s partnership with the UK was further cemented in February 2011 when the UK Government released a White Paper, naming Israel as a key strategic partner for the UK, partnering the technological brilliance of Israel with the UKs strategic positioning and expertise in building large, successful companies.