Israel, India to resume FTA talks

A delegation from New Delhi has arrived in Jerusalem to resume talks for a free trade agreement (FTA).

By Erin Viner

Israel’s Economy Ministry announced that a senior team from India’s Industry and Trade will meet with their Israeli counterparts to discuss framework rules and coordinate expectations for negotiations.

The two nations agreed last October to work out a deal by mid-2022.

Ties between Israel and the South Asian Republic have drawn closer in the eight years since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has held office, including the reaching of a number of strategic, military and technology partnerships during that time.

Bilateral trade amounted to $6.3 billion (nearly € 5.9 billion) last year, compared to $200 million (equivalent to just over €191) back in 1992 when the two countries first formed diplomatic ties.

Israel has emerged as one of India’s biggest suppliers of weapons alongside the United States and long-term partner Russia.

“We share similar challenges in a wide range of fields, from agriculture, climate and water to homeland security, fintech and cyber,” said Israeli Economy Minister Orna Barbivai in a statement. Describing bilateral relations as “strategic,” she added that an FTA would significantly boost existing collaboration.

Economy Ministry Director General Ron Malka, who formerly served as Israeli Ambassador to India, said in the statement that the agreement would not only strengthen trade and economic cooperation between the sides, but would also help to ease trade barriers for Israeli companies operating in India and facilitate Jerusalem’s efforts to lower the cost of living.

Just last month, Israel signed a free trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

India is also hoping to reach new trade deals with several countries including the UAE, Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada; aimed at increasing exports and help the country recover more quickly from its economic slump resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.