‘Indo-Israel trade to touch $10 bln this year; FTA essential to strengthen cooperation’

Mumbai: Indo-Israel trade will grow to USD 10 billion this year and a free trade agreement (FTA) is essential to strengthen the economic relations, visiting officials from the Jewish country said on Thursday.

Direct flight connectivity will be established between more cities in India and Israel by the end of this year, they said.

The country’s Ambassador Naor Gilon said trade has grown by nearly 50 times since the establishment of full diplomatic ties between India and Israel in 1992.

”We started at USD 200 million then and we are approaching USD 10 billion this year,” Gilon said speaking at an India-Israel Business Summit here.

The bilateral trade between the two countries grew to USD 8.09 billion, excluding defence procurements in the first nine months of FY23, up from USD 7.86 billion in FY22. Yael Ravia-Zadok, the head of the economic affairs division in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that while the trade has grown and the scope of opportunities is endless, the FTA can help strengthen the economic ties further.

”We need to strengthen the infrastructure for economic cooperation. I am referring to the FTA that we are discussing right now…it will encourage trade and economic relations between our countries,” she said. However, she declined to give any update on the negotiations for the FTA, especially during the ongoing visit of a high-level delegation from Israel which is on currently.

Gilon said that during the 15 hours that he was present in New Delhi earlier this week before rushing back home due to troubles in the Gaza Strip, his foreign minister Eli Cohen met top ministers and high-ranking officials. Four agreements were signed between the two countries for cooperation, including one where Israel has committed to take 34,000 Indian construction workers and 8,000 caregivers.

It has also committed to building two technology centres and upgrading the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, he said. Earlier, visiting officials from Israel stressed on technology being the cornerstone of the ties, which will include both military and civilian aspects.

Ravia-Zadok said given the shared concerns on water, Israel has also appointed a special envoy on water, who liaises with the Jal Shakti Ministry to introduce the best solutions developed in Israel.