PM bids shalom after business end of his trip

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapped up a three-day visit to Israel with a meeting with CEOs of various companies who reportedly signed agreements worth about $4.3 billion.

Businessmen attending the first meeting of the “CEO forum” for India-Israel cooperation, which also met Mr. Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, said the focus was on building ties currently overshadowed by one-way defence trade between the countries. A document of “joint intentions” issued by the forum, organised by FICCI, said that it hoped to take current bilateral trade of about $4-5 billion to $20 billion in five years “if untapped potential is fully harnessed.” The document listed the biggest problems as restrictive “laws for investors” in India, and Indian business visas, which are only granted for one year presently.

“The real potential is allowing Israeli technology to access the Indian market by manufacturing products for the world,” Shiv Khemka, Vice-Chairman of the Sun Group that partners with hi-tech Israeli companies like Eccopia that produces robotic non-water cleaners for solar panels at a factory in Haryana, and water purifiers told The Hindu .

Desalinisation unit

In a prime ministerial pitch for private company Galmobile that would seem unusual in India but is part of Israeli business culture, Mr. Netanyahu also took Mr. Modi to the Olga beach in Haifa, where the two leaders drove a portable desalinisation unit that hopes to market in India soon.

“We’ll share our technology with India & provide clean water for millions. I’m proud of Israel!” Mr. Netanyahu wrote in a tweet, adding to a photo of him and Mr. Modi standing in the shallows that there is “nothing like going to the beach with friends.”

According to Shraga Brosh, the Israeli co-chair from the forum from Israeli side, the CEOs on both sides had identified transport infrastructure, including roads, railways, civil aviation and renewable energies amongst a series of sectors Israeli-Indian partnerships could be built in, while the Indian Ministry of Commerce officials present promised a special desk to handle Israeli investments in India. Israeli companies are increasingly also looking to Indian companies to partner in manufacturing and export their products to countries in the Gulf and others where purely “Israeli-manufactured products” would not be accepted.

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