Business Standard | 11 Feb 2015
India, Israel FTA not likely to be signed soon
Indian and Israel companies are seeking collaborations and joint-ventures in water technology
Nayanima Basu | New Delhi
The India and Israel free trade agreement (FTA) is not going to be reality soon even as Israel is planning to expand its footprint in the market areas such as water management, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.
“As I understand they (Indian govenrment) are a little bit afraid of FTA as a whole because of the industry and impact on the local industry. But Israel is not a big market player globally, it is not Europe and it is not the US. FTA with Israel can only do good. We should not look at each other as competitors but each others’ complementarities,” Amit Lang, director general of Israel’s Ministry of Economy told Business Standard.
Lang said both India and Israel are also toying with the idea of completing the talks step by step wherein first FTA with goods will be signed followed by an agreement on trade in services and investment.
“India mentioned that the FTA should be more comprehensive and not just trade in goods … But I am not sure whether it will be concluded as a whole. It may be concluded in steps. We had so far seven to eight rounds, which is normal when you negotiate FTA, especially when India does not have lot of FTAs. But Israel has much more FTAs and that too with the big ones like the US, EU, Canada and others,” he added.
During the visit of their economic minister Naftali Bennett, both sides had agreed to increase bilateral trade to $10 billion from around $5 billion at present.
Lang said that, as a result, both sides are trying to identify the common areas of interest.
“We explained to each other what the obstacles are to the free trade agreement (FTA). The Indian side explained to us what is making them hold back the negotiations … We concluded that we will try to go forward in that. I don’t know eventually if we get to a full-scale agreement but there are things that we want to proceed in which are of mutual interest.”
Lang added that Israel can introduce to the Indian market efficient usage of technology in the area of water management or agriculture. Israel is also keen on entering the area of cyber security and life-sciences.
“We would like to enlarge our areas of cooperation and go beyond defence. India is a big challenge today in terms of water. Be it the Ganga river or any other river, India needs technology. We know it well because we in Israel have also faced worse scarcity of water and we have overcome that in the last decade.”
Indian and Israel companies are seeking collaborations and joint-ventures in water technology. Lang, who is heading a delegation of 10 leading Israeli firms, also held discussion with some of the leading Indian companies for partnerships.
Some of the leading Israeli companies keen to enter the Indian market in water management technology are Mekorot, Baran Group, ARI, Amiad, Aqwise and Arad Group among others.
Some of the states where Israel is focusing with this project are Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab.