British minister promotes post-Brexit trade in Israel

Britain's International Trade Secretary Liam Fox arrives at 10 Downing Street in London on November 26, 2018 to attend the weekly meeting of the cabinet. (AFP)
Updated 28 November 2018
0

British minister promotes post-Brexit trade in Israel

  • "we want to push our concept of free trade even further,” Fox told Netanyahu
  • Netanyahu said: “Britain is in fact our largest trade partner in Europe"

JERUSALEM: British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox met Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday as his country prepares to leave the European Union and pursue an independent trade policy.
Britain’s exports to Israel already grew by 75 percent in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period last year, Fox’s office said, citing Israeli official figures.
Last year saw more than $9 billion in trade between the two nations, a record high, it said.
“And as we leave the European Union and Britain takes up its place as an independent state of (the World Trade Organization), we want to push our concept of free trade even further,” Fox told Netanyahu ahead of their meeting.
“In a world where the siren calls of protectionism are rising, two free-trade nations like ours need to make the case for global free trade because trade spreads prosperity.”
Netanyahu said: “Britain is in fact our largest trade partner in Europe — one of our most important trading partners in the world — and we value the friendship.”
Israel is notably an import market for British cars, while Scotch whiskey sales in Israel have increased by 300 percent since 2012, according to Fox’s office.
Other leading British exports to Israel have included mineral products and machinery and electrical equipment, as well as chemical industry products, according to the British embassy.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking to convince hostile MPs to back her draft deal for future ties with the EU after her country exits the bloc next March. A vote is scheduled for December 11.
Fox arrived in Israel on Monday and met with Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.


Dutch, UK polls open, starting 4 days of European elections

Updated 41 min 4 sec ago
0

Dutch, UK polls open, starting 4 days of European elections

  • Voters across Europe will elect 751 lawmakers in the elections
  • UK’s 73 lawmakers in the EU Parliament will lose their jobs if the country leaves the union

THE HAGUE: Dutch and UK polls opened Thursday in elections for the European Parliament, starting four days of voting across the 28-nation bloc that pits supporters of deeper integration against populist Euroskeptics who want more power for their national governments.
A half hour after voting started in the Netherlands, polls opened across the United Kingdom, the only other country voting Thursday, and a nation still wrestling with its plans to leave the European Union altogether and the leadership of embattled Prime Minister Theresa May.
The elections, which end Sunday night, come as support is surging for populists and nationalists who want to rein in the EU’s powers, while traditional powerhouses like France and Germany insist that unity is the best buffer against the shifting economic and security interests of an emerging new world order.
French President Emmanuel Macron says the challenge is “not to cede to a coalition of destruction and disintegration” that will seek to dismantle EU unity built up over the past six decades.
In a significant challenge to those centrist forces, populists appear largely united heading into the elections. On Saturday, Italy’s anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was joined at a rally by 10 other nationalist leaders, including far-right leaders Marine Le Pen of France’s National Rally party and Joerg Meuthen of the Alternative for Germany party.
On Thursday morning, UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn released a message with a warning that “the far-right is on the rise” and adding that “the actions we take now will have huge consequences for our future.”
Voters across Europe elect a total of 751 lawmakers, although that number is set to drop to 705 when the UK leaves the EU. The Dutch make up just 26 currently and 29 after Brexit. The UK has 73 European lawmakers, who would lose their jobs when their country completes its messy divorce from the EU.
Results of the four days of voting will not be officially released until Sunday night, but Dutch national broadcaster NOS will publish an exit poll after ballot boxes close Thursday night.
The Netherlands could provide a snapshot of what is to come. Polls show the right-wing populist Forum for Democracy led by charismatic intellectual Thierry Baudet running neck-and-neck with the center-right VVD party of Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
While the country, an affluent trading nation, profits from the EU’s open borders and single market, it also is a major contributor to EU coffers. Skeptical Dutch voters in 2005 rejected a proposed EU constitution in a referendum.
Baudet, whose party emerged as a surprise winner of provincial elections in March, identifies more with hard-line Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban than with the nationalist populist movement led by Salvini, although in a debate Wednesday night he called Salvini a “hero of Europe” for his crackdown on migration.