Negotiations between India and Israel to forge a free trade agreement (FTA), under way for three years now, are likely to be completed by next year, Ambassador of Israel to India Alon Ushpiz has said.

Addressing members of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI) here on Monday, Mr. Ushpiz said the agreement was a much-needed legal framework to further strengthen ties between the two countries.

The bilateral trade of around $5 billion, which by itself was significant given the modest $180 million in 1992, was well below potential.

“We can go way beyond,” Mr. Ushpiz said and added that the scope of cooperation was tremendous in agriculture and technology, particularly in research and development in civilian areas.

Areas where Israel offered its expertise included water desalination, while affordable healthcare was one where more efforts needed to be put in.

Then, there was scope for Israel to offer assistance in internal security, from policing to curbing terrorism.

It was also giving shape to a fund, “very big in volume, way beyond $20 million”, to promote business based on technology.

FKCCI president R. Shivakumar said the chamber was keen to work towards strengthening economic ties between the two countries.

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