The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Indian and Israel, which has been on the cards for quite some time now, would change the composition of business between the two countries, Ambassador of Israel in India Alon Ushpiz said in Kolkata on Tuesday.
New sectors like information and technology (IT), agriculture and biotechnology would be broght into focus, diversifying away from the diamond-centric bilateral trade that Israel and India share at present, Ushpiz said at a programme organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce.
The FTA would also help increase trade volumes, which currently stood at around $5 billion and would exceed $12 billion in another five years on the agreement. “It (bilateral trade) has the potential to touch $15 billion,” Ushpiz said.
The India-Israel FTA, talks for which have entered the third round and are currently include reaching a mutually agreeable exclusion list to help protect some sensitive domestic sectors, was initially expected to be signed by February this year.
Speaking on Isarel’s specific interest in West Bengal, Ushpiz, who also met state chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Director General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee on Tuesday, said there was wide spectrum where collaboration was possible.
Although he was tight-lipped on a possible partnership in helping the Bengal government combat the Maoist insurgency, the diplomat, who began his term in India this July, said collaborations in agriculture development was on the agenda.
“We have partnered to start a Center of Excellence in Haryana to work on agriculture and the results there are remarkable. Talks are on with Maharshtra and Rajasthan for similar projects, maybe we could even work out something similar with West Bengal,” Ushpiz said.
Following his meeting with the Chief Minister, he said that Israel was keen on working with the state government on food processing, tourism and irrigation as well besides agriculture. “West Bengal is a priority state to us,” he said.
Ushpiz also inaugurated a Business Promotion Office from the Embassy in Kolkata on Monday. The office would help in matchmaking between businessmen from the two countries in the fields of IT and biotechnology among other sectors, he said.