Indo-Israeli FTA talks to ride on equal trade opportunities
A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and Israel, proposed by the latter about four years ago, has all the trappings for an early completion as both sides find the future partner with complementary trade openings. The upcoming visit by a high-level delegation from Israel to New Delhi later this month is likely to give clarity on how the bilateral trade between both countries will pan out in the coming years.
India would be largely interested in absorbing Israel’s technological prowess in areas such as bio-tech, nano-technology, healthcare, security services, water management and agriculture. On the other hand, Israel will focus on the India’s manufacturing potential to overcome its limitations on this front.
Although there are equal trade and utility potential for both countries, the tariff differences remained a roadblock for the smooth transition of trade talks ever since they began. India’s tariffs are on the higher end, and will have to make steep reductions to accommodate Israel’s trading needs. However, given the smaller size of Israel’s manufacturing industry, India does not have to worry about any massive influx of goods if it compromised on tariffs.
Speaking to Business Line, Eli Belotserkovsky, Deputy Chief Mission, Embassy of Israel, said that there are very few issues that need to be sorted out to finalise a FTA between the two nations. He opined that the two-way trade was evenly matched at about $2bn, and projected to grow up to $6bn once the FTA was signed.
Belotserkovsky admitted that they were not good at mass production or heavy equipment, where India could play a big role. He also said that the textile trade was another area which had immense potential between the two nations.
The Indo-Israeli FTA is expected to promote investment opportunities for both governments as well as private enterprises. Among goods and services, both countries’ major area of focus would be agriculture as it has been in the past few years.
By Jose Roy