India, Israel agree to broaden partnership beyond defence #IndiawithIsrael

“This is a marriage made in heaven, but we (India and Israel) are implementing it here on earth,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effusively described the two countries’ relations, drawing an immediate and hearty smile from his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. This was the first ever visit by an Indian prime minister to Israel. It was aimed at creating a future roadmap for accelerating India-Israel bilateral trade, investment, and political relations for the next 25 years.

Modi’s visit to Israel turned out to be a historic affirmation of their resilient partnership, as the two nations signed as many as seven agreements in key sectors, including agriculture, space, water and development cooperation. Furthermore, with an objective of strengthening their collaboration in various key areas, India and Israel announced they would establish a USD 40 million innovation fund to encourage innovation across agriculture, energy, water, security and various other fields.

India has already emerged as one of Israel’s largest arms buyers. When India-Israel diplomatic ties were established in 1992, approximately 25 years ago, bilateral trade was nearly USD 200 million. Today, their trade stands at about USD 4.2 billion, almost one-fifth of which are Israeli defence shipments to India. A few days ago, the Israeli government passed a USD 79.3 million budget to promote exports to India.

A recent report by Accenture and Nasscom underscored that cross-border investment between India and Israel could produce as much as USD 25 billion in sales by 2025.

In April Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd. announced a USD 2 billion contract, the largest defence deal between the two countries, to provide an advanced MRSAM air & missile defence systems to the Indian Army. Kalyani Strategic Systems, the subsidiary of Bharat Forge, and Israel Aerospace Industries signed a new MoU to establish a maintenance centre for selected advanced air defence systems in India.

Amid a few high-level trade deals, three Israeli defence companies announced a new agreement to provide India with combat drones.

Israeli agriculture and water technologies stood out as a major draw for Indian investment. The two prime ministers also called for realising their full potential of bilateral trade and investment. They tasked the ‘India-Israel CEO Forum’ to present early recommendations in this regard.

Overall, the last fortnight has seen India making a concerted effort to deepen its political, investment and economic engagements with the world. Prior to visiting Israel, PM Modi travelled to Portugal, the United States, and the Netherland to undertake important bilateral visit. Currently, Modi is in Hamburg, Germany to represent Indian in the G20 summit.

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