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Israel, India to sign free trade agreement

Ynet, Israel

Israel, India to sign free trade agreement

Finance minister says deal will open up ’endless opportunities’, though Israeli market may soon be flooded with cheap goods

By Tani Goldstien

25 November 2010/Israel Business

A new world of opportunities is set to open up before the Israeli entrepreneur. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz announced Thursday that Israel was set to sign a free trade agreement with India.

Speaking at a trade convention in Shefayim, Steinitz said the agreement would exempt many import and export ventures from VAT in both states.

Israel currently has free trade agreements with the US, the European Union, Jordan, Egypt, and many of the Latin American states. It is the only country to have such an agreement with both the US and the EU.

The state has so far refrained from signing such agreements with China and India due to fears that the tiny market would become swamped with cheap goods. But recent complaints by entrepreneurs that the Western market was unresponsive, due to the economic crisis and other issues, caused the Finance Ministry to reconsider.

Steinitz is set to visit India in February in order to sign the agreement, which does not require government approval.

"The giant Indian market is full of endless opportunities for Israeli companies, of which many are already active there and can now expand their market," Steinitz said.

Officials at the Finance Ministry added that the abundance of cheap goods that will most likely flood the Israeli market were "the agreement’s downside", but that the advantages outweigh its weaknesses.

Last August the Indian market became second on the list of Israeli exporters’ top aims. Nearly a billion dollars worth of goods were exported there in the past quarter, a 102% rise from the previous year.