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India seeking to expand economic cooperation with Israel

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NEW DELHI : India is reopening for business, and looking to increase trade ties with Israel, India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar told a group of Israeli and Indian business leaders on Sunday.

Jaishankar is in Israel this week on his first visit here since 2017. His trip is being held in conjunction with the international Blue Flag aerial exercise that is taking place in the South this week with the airforces of India, the US, Germany, Italy, the UK, France and Greece and Israel taking part.

After suffering significant economic damage during the first phase of the pandemic, India is now confident it can achieve 9% economic growth this year and is having its best year ever for both exports and foreign direct investment.

India has implemented a number of economic reforms in recent years that are giving it greater power to compete in the global economy,  Jaishankar said.

“We regard Israel as our most trusted and most innovative partners,” he said.

Since diplomatic relations between India and Israel were first established in 1992, bilateral trade and economic relations have grown from $200 million that year to some $5 billion in 2021, including petroleum trade. Defense trade comprises another $1.5b.

India is now Israel’s third-largest trading partner in Asia and its seventh-largest globally. Trade has been dominated primarily by diamonds and chemicals, although in recent years, there has been more commerce in hi-tech products, services, electronic machinery, communications systems, medical equipment, and other fields.

Health will be a major focus of future trade, as will food tech, energy, mobility, electronics and sustainability technologies, said Anat Bernstein-Reich, Chairperson of the Israel-India Chambers of Commerce and president of TiE Israel.

Israel has three economic attaches in India who can help facilitate all kinds of economic initiatives, said Ron Malka, Director General of the Economy Ministry. He noted that Israel and India worked together at the beginning of the pandemic to help Israel evacuate more than 3,000 Israelis who were stuck in India. It also sent Israel materials needed for drugs and other treatments, he noted.

“Israel and India are a shining example of how two nations could collaborate during the pandemic,” Malka said. “There are many avenues of collaboration in place, and there are many more to come.”

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