Hyderabad (TIP): The India-Israel free trade agreement, which is close to being concluded, will have far reaching implications on both the countries going beyond trade volumes, according to Alon Ushpiz, Israeli Ambassador to India. Speaking to reporters here, he said that the parleys between the two countries on FTA are currently under way in New Delhi. The agreement is likely to be concluded at the earliest.

“In fact, we were hoping to conclude this a few months ago. The FTA negotiations are pretty complex and take time to conclude as both the parties tend to be firm on their respective stands,” he explained. The bilateral trade had shot up to about $5 billion in 2011, excluding services, with similar volumes both sides. This registered a slight slowdown in 2012. But the moment the FTA is signed, it could help accelerate trade volumes by at least $2 billion, he said.

Sectors such as information technology, research and development, high-tech areas have immense potential to grow bilaterally. In fact, there have been proposals to set up a separate fund for the IT sector between the two countries to encourage development of products. Already, several cooperative initiatives are now underway between the two counties and also with some States in the area of agriculture technology, water management, treatment of sewerage and desalination.

Israel has gained considerable expertise in the energy sector, including renewables. We are in talks with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and expect to sign an agreement for mutual cooperation for sharing of technology, he said. Referring to the cooperation in the agriculture sector, he said several projects have been initiated with States focussing on water management and improving productivity.

These include technology sharing for production of vegetables, mango, citrus fruits, pomegranates and flowers. “We are natural friends of water. We can offer technology and share learning with India. This could be through Government, public undertakings and also expertise in the private sector,” he said.

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