India, Israel give a $5bn boost to commercial ties

07 July 2017

Indian and Israeli companies signed agreements worth over $5 billion as the two countries expanded their bilateral relations across areas, including science, agriculture and technology, on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first visit to the Middle Eastern country.

At a joint CEOs forum on Thursday, the two countries signed 12 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in the fields of pharma, life-sciences, digital technologies, IT & ITES, start-ups and innovation, defence and homeland security, worth about $5 billion.

The India-Israel CEOs Forum, which met for the first time, set a target to increase the bilateral trade from the current $4.13 billion to $20 billion within five years.

The forum also set up six joint committees covering start-ups, pharma and life sciences, homeland security, agriculture, energy and water management.

The India-Israel start-up bridge was launched to encourage start-ups of the two nations to work together and come up with innovative solutions to tackle challenges in the agriculture, water and healthcare sectors.

"It is a very exhilarating for me to share that during this historic visit of our prime minister to Israel, 12 MoUs are signed between Indian and Israeli companies. The most of these Indian companies signing MOUs are also their CEOs as part of the India Israel CEOs Forum," said Pankaj Patel, president, FICCI and chairman, Zydus-Cadila Healthcare Ltd and Indian co-chair of the CEOs Forum who led a 16-member delegation of Indian CEOs to participate in the CEOs Forum Meeting.

While defence had been a key driver of Indian-Israeli cooperation, the countries have now agreed to create a bilateral technology innovation fund worth $40 million.

Prime Minister Modi also on Thursday invited the Israeli industry to participate in 'Startup India' initiative, saying his government has done a lot to improve the ease of doing business and is positioning the country as a global manufacturing hub.

"We have resolved number of regulatory and policy issues facing businesses and companies. We've worked very sincerely for ease of doing business," Modi said at the launch of India-Israel CEO's Forum in Tel Aviv.

Modi touted the goods and services tax (GST) as the latest example of economic reforms that would help business and industry thrive.

"Now, we are moving towards modern tax regime, which is transparent, stable and predictable," he said.

He also said the `Make in India' initiative is part of his government's efforts to "position" India as a global manufacturing hub and engage the young population in productive work.

Observing that Israel is known as 'start-up nation', he said "it has a unique sense and ecosystem for innovation and incubation. Credit must go to the Israeli entrepreneurs".

"There is lot of potential for #IndiaIsrael partnership in @startupindia. I am happy that India-Israel start-up bridge has been formally launched today," the external affairs ministry said in a tweet quoting Modi.

Modi, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also established an innovation bridge between start-ups and innovators of Israel and India for a better world.

Speaking at the event, Netanyahu said together the two countries have tremendous potential.

"...Potential not only in markets but in creating new possibilities, new opportunities. We just saw this in crop protection or in water, the cleaning of water, or in energy, or in any field, in any field," said the Israeli Prime Minister.

He added that the Israeli side in the forum comprises people who run some of the most important companies, "and they do so with great talent and with great skill. You have brought similar people from India".

"We are making a partnership here, a real one, to excel in innovation for both our peoples and for the entire world," he said.

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