Seeking to put trade and economic activity between the two countries on a strong pedestal, Israel on Monday said it was pushing for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India with an objective of tripling bilateral commerce to $12 billion over the next four-five years and hoped that such a treaty would materialise soon.

“It is one of the aims of my visit here to try and push it as much as possible. It is progressing quite well and I hope it will happen very soon,” Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour, Benjamin (Fouad) Ben-Eliezer, said at two different functions organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) here. During April-December 2008-09, bilateral trade stood at $2.8 billion. Israel’s Ambassador to India, Mark Sofer said bilateral trade was expected to grow fast once commerce was liberalised between the two countries.

The full potential for bilateral trade between India and Israel had yet to be realised, Mr. Benjamin said, adding that the areas of cooperation included homeland security, which is a major need for India and the new growing technologies in Tel Aviv.

Indian exports to Israel include chemicals, plastics, rubber, textiles, machinery and vehicle parts, while imports consist of minerals and electrical equipment.

Later, at a CII event, Mr. Benjamin Ben-Eliezer called upon Indian and Israeli companies to enhance business relations by collaborating in joint research and development, production and marketing.

Calling Mumbai terror attacks in India as a wake-up call for both countries, Mr. Sofer said, homeland security was a major issue in India and Israel had new technologies which would revolutionise the world. It needs to be incorporated as lots could be done through homeland security. Trade in diamonds accounts for almost half of the trade volume between the two countries and the figures do not include intensifying defence engagement between the strategic partners.

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