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Sajid Javid: "Israel has made business bloom in the barren desert"

5 min read

10 June 2015

Former editor

In a speech to a UK and Israel business dinner in London, Sajid Javid looked to solidify trade relations between the countries by saying, just like millions of Israelis, his mother too is waiting for him to get a “proper job”.

With the total value of trade and services between Israel and the UK standing at over £4.5bn a year, the new business minister cited both Israeli businesses such as CinemaCity, Helios Energy Fund and the Noy Fund, which have set up or expanded in the UK, and the likes of HSBC, GSK and Barclays, part of a group which have invested in excess of £1bn into the Middle Eastern country, as evidence of strong ties.

Describing the last few years as a “golden era for Anglo-Israeli business”, he indicated his excitement for what could come in the future.

“Collaboration on science and technology is the cornerstone of our shared relationship. And as we all know, only Silicon Valley can rival Israel when it comes to developing leading-edge technologies,” he added.

“We look towards Israel to benefit from its world-leading expertise in cyber security. And equally, we want to support Israel as it exploits recent discoveries of natural gas in its waters – through strategic partnerships, project finance and supply chains.”

Just who is the new business secretary Sajid Javid?

During the evening’s event, Hillsdown founder Harry Solomon was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for the work he has done since establishing the food business in 1976. Budget airline easyJet picked up British Company of the Year while Ladbrokes, which has had a subsidiary in Israel since 2013, and Shop Direct were also nominated for the same accolade.

Mobile application startup Zeek was selected as Most Promising, and online marketing company XLMedia was given Israeli Listed Company of the Year.

Read more about Sajid Javid:

Javid, who has a background in business having become US bank Chase’s youngest vice president at the age of 25 and run Deutsche Bank’s global credit trading office, has made early moves since being appointed to the position of business secretary on 11 May focusing on small business red tape and the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill.

However, topics at his dinner speech included the number of Israeli businesses which have chosen the London Stock Exchange as a destination to list (nine in the last year) and the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange Partnership.

He also touched on the subject of boycotts on the back of the British National Union of Students’ decision to do so against Israel.

“Last December, as culture secretary, I made a speech to Britain’s Union of Jewish Students. And I told them that I had no time for the boycott campaign. Because for me, freedom is an absolute concept,” he explained.

“At the time I spoke of artistic freedom. Today I talk of the freedom to trade, the freedom to go about your business in peace. Today I talk of the idea that underpins my entire political philosophy, that of free enterprise. It simply doesn’t make sense to say ‘I believe in the free market, but…’ Let me be very clear – I don’t believe in boycotts. Nor, I’m proud to say, does my party, my prime minister. Or, for the most part, my country.”

Saying that business can not only provide jobs and local growth, but also lift individuals, communities and even countries up to be the “best they can be”, he indicated a shared love with Israel for freedom and democracy. “I admire its tenacious determination when the odds are stacked against it,” he exclaimed.

Israel has produced 68 public companies trading on the US-based NASDAQ exchange and seen businesses such as Waze, Solute and PrimeSense acquired by the likes Google and Apple for millions or billions of US dollars.