India-Israel FTA to boost trade volume

The two-way trade between the countries stood at USD 6 billion in 2012-13.

Hyderabad: The implementation of the proposed free trade agreement between India and Israel is expected to boost the bilateral trade multi-fold, a top Israeli diplomat on Wednesday said.

"These are very detailed and difficult negotiations. From my point of view, they are focusing now on the list of items. Because, every FTA by definition, goes through a very long list of items and lowers taxes. Now, the significance of an FTA in India-Israel case goes beyond the volume of trade.

"Our estimation is that the volume of trade will go up by billion dollars once we have an FTA," Israel's Ambassador to India Alon Ushpiz told reporters here.

The FTA would lead to two other significant advantages of promoting interaction between the private sector of the two countries and also enable the workforce of both the nations to work together to "invent, produce and market" things together in areas that are not traditionally covered, he said.

"I think it is important for both governments and for both negotiating teams to look at the immediate obstacles, but also to look at the potential of what we will achieve once we have an FTA.
But, these are complicated things. These things take time," he said.

Replying to a query, he said he cannot put a timeframe on when the FTA is likely to be sealed.

In energy cooperation, India and Israel were negotiating an agreement for conducting Research and Development together, Ushpiz said, hoping that the pact would be clinched in the coming months.

In agriculture, a three-year working plan from March 2012 till March 2015 is in place. The effort is to provide technology which can be adapted to the needs of Indian farmers, he said.

Replying to a query, he said the process is on with regard to the IT fund proposed during the recent visit of Union Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal to Israel.

The Ambassador earlier visited the R&D facility set up by Makhteshim Agan India Pvt Ltd, the Indian subsidiary of a leading Israeli agri-solutions company, here.

Ushpiz said the company is developing crop protection products like one for fighting fungus, and several of its products are tailor-made for Indian farmers.

The two-way trade between the countries stood at USD 6 billion in 2012-13.