‘Full FTA with India will give an impetus to two-way trade’: Israeli Prez

New Delhi [India]: Israeli President Reuven Rivlin today expressed his firm commitment that he and the business delegation accompanying him “are here to make in India and make with India” and hoped that his visit will open the way for a full free trade agreement between the two countries.

Addressing the India-Israel Economic Forum: Innovative Partnership, organised by FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM, Rivlin said that India was today the top trade partner for Israel and exhorted the business leaders to work closely together to create a stronger market in both countries.

Rivlin said that Israel, a rain-deficit country, had evolved technology solutions to meeting its water needs. Its waste water management know-how could be of immense use for India even as he offered to partner in India’s ‘ Clean Ganga’ project and solar energy solutions.

The Israeli President said that trade between the two countries was growing has at a rapid pace and there was great scope for cooperation in water treatment projects, optics, metals, aviation, diamonds and textiles, etc.

Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, said that India’s ambition was to grow at 9-10 percent annually over three decades for which the Government of India is undertaking structural reforms such as the bankruptcy law, Goods and Services Tax and the most recent demonetisation of currency notes.

He said that it would be difficult for India to grow at this rate without a dynamic and durable economic and business partnership with Israel. He mentioned defence manufacturing, agriculture and water management as some of key areas where the two countries need to develop strong partnerships.

Shraga Brosh, President, Manufacturers Association of Israel (MAI), in his remarks, said that MAI and FICCI had decided on a target of tripling the two-way trade turnover for which he suggested forging of joint venture for operations in India and in third countries. The focus, he said, should be on agriculture, homeland security and energy.

The MoU signed today with FICCI, he said, will act as a bridge to create more business between Israel and India.

Harshavardhan Neotia, President, FICCI and Chairman, Ambuja Neotia Group, pointed out that the potential in trade is immense and while there has been much talk of an FTA, FICCI is in favour of an India-Israel Bilateral Innovation Treaty that promotes businesses linked to innovation.

“We in FICCI are firmly of the view that current global geopolitical trends make it ideal for India and Israel to strategize on a Defence and Homeland Security collaboration with a larger role for Indian private sector in co-production and co-development.”

He said that there is no doubt that enhancing science and technology cooperation can add value to the bilateral relationship and FICCI supports the idea of greater partnership between India and Israel in the area of agricultural technology especially arid land technology, biotechnology and IT.

“Together we can build a global campaign to combat droughts which will also generate opportunities to work on global challenges like food security and water management,” Neotia said.

Atul Punj, Chairman, CII National Committee on Construction and CMD, Punj Lloyd Ltd., highlighted the areas of cooperation where India and Israel could work together. These include technology, ‘Make in India’ programme and Smart Cities.

He said both countries need to broaden and deepen cooperation in fields of science and technology, R&D, and innovation, since efforts in these areas will increasingly define the path of economic development in coming years. Further, there is a lot of areas where Israeli and Indian industry can work together especially given the Government of India’s Make in India initiative and suggested that the Israeli defence industry could consider co-producing defence equipment in India as the FDI limits in this sector have been relaxed. The technological prowess of Israel can also play an important role in helping develop the India’s smart cities programme, he added.

Sunil Kanoria, President, ASSOCHAM and Vice Chairman, SREI Infrastructure Finance Ltd., laid stress on the immense possibilities that can open up if Israeli technology and Indian talent come together.

“When two entrepreneur partners come together, their combined strength can produce world beaters,” he said.

The unfolding fourth Industrial Revolution and advent of disruptive technologies will make some of the present skills and jobs redundant, but this will also open up many new areas of job creation, especially in the services sector. The abundant supply of manpower in India needs to be equipped with the right skill sets so enable them to take up the new jobs. Israeli tech start-ups can help in imparting these skills in India to supply human talent for jobs in India and the world over, he emphasised. (ANI)