Wednesday, December 7, 2011

India, Israel to enter into free trade agreement

The Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FAPCCI) in association with The Embassy of Israel and Indo Israel Chamber of Commerce & Industry jointly organized a meeting on “Indo-Israel Relations” on 6th December 2011 at Surana Udyog Auditorium, Red Hills, Hyderabad. His Excellency Mr. Alon Ushpiz, Ambassador of Israel to India was the chief guest for the occasion.

Mr. Ponnala Lakshmayya, Minister for Information Technology and Communications, Govt. of AP, Mr. V.S. Raju, President, FAPCCI, Mr. Ken Udai Sagar, President, Indo-Israel Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Mauneer Akbaria, Consulate general of Israel, Mr. Mr. Devendra Surana, Sr Vice President, FAPCCI, Mr. Srinivas Ayyadevara, Vice President, FAPCCI, Mr. Shyam Sunder Pasari, Chairman, International Trade Committee, FAPCCI and Mr. M.V. Rajeshwara Rao, Secretary General are the other speakers at the occasion.

Mr. Alon Ushpiz in his inaugural said that the India and Israel being at an advanced stage of finalizing a free trade agreement, the bilateral trade is likely to touch $15 billion from around $5 billion now. We have concluded three rounds of talks relating to FTA and the fourth round is likely to be taken up in January next. You must understand that FTA is amongst the toughest subjects to deal with and has many aspects before being finalized, including the items to be included. Therefore, we see this being concluded by December 2012 paving way for acceleration of trade between the two nations.

Mr. Ushpiz also said that there are expectations that the bilateral trade would go up to $15 billion between the two. The pesticides and fertilizers, a part of holistic development of agriculture, would be major thrust areas. An R&D centre on pesticides that helps guide in optimum use and increased production is likely to come up in India.

Mr. Ponnala Laxmaiah said about Indian economy and industrial development strategy. He said that the Indian economy which is a resilient economy with a wide base of agriculture, mining, manufacturing and services is now ranked as the 4th largest in the world by purchasing power parity and has been growing rapidly in recent years. In fact, the Indian economy has been growing at an average growth rate of about 8% in the last six fiscal years. Expected growth rate in FY 2009-10 is around 7%. According to a study by Goldman Sachs, Indian economy is expected to continue growing at the rate of 5% till 2050.

Mr. V.S. Raju said that the field of agriculture, Indo-Israeli cooperation on both the public and private levels encompasses wide-ranging projects, including water management, dairy farming, horticulture and floriculture. Additionally, India and Israel have expanded tourism and cultural exchanges in recent years. Israeli companies have really made progress in the field of agricultural technology, water management and biotechnology. In Israel 75 per cent of wastewater is recycled and used for agricultural purposes. We also have the world’s largest desalination plant. India also faces a similar problem and this technology can be put to use here.

Mr. Shyam Sunder Pasari in his introductory remarks said that FDI inflows from Israel to India from April 2000 to March 2011 totaled US$ 53.14 million placing it at 38th rank (0.04% of total FDI inflows to India). The traditional business thrust is in diamonds, agriculture, chemicals, information & communication technology and pharmaceuticals remained strong. There is a growing interest from Israeli companies in clean energy, water technologies, biotech, nanotech, homeland security, real estate, infrastructure and financial services.

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