Ambassador of Israel to India Alon Ushpiz on Thursday said that cooperation in agriculture could be the strategic backbone for greater synergies and deeper cooperation between the two countries.
Speaking at a congregation organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Eastern Region in Kolkata, Ushpiz said, "It is existential relations which are not just about buying and selling, but a pledge to do things together that will define Indo-Israeli ties."
"Sectors such as water, healthcare, renewable energies, IT and agriculture could be game-changers [for Indo-Israel ties]," he said, adding that the two countries are inching closer to signing a free-trade agreement (FTA).
"I am confident the bilateral trade volume will jump from the current US$ 5 billion to US$10-15 billion in a few years time. In fact, FTA will change the composition of trade. The minute we have the FTA in place, the intensity of interactions will be on a much higher level," he said.
Ambassador Ushpiz also announced that a high-tech centre of excellence on agriculture will be set up in Hooghly district in West Bengal. "This is something that will materialise by next year," he said.
"We will also set up a Business Development Office soon in Kolkata to explore strategic business partnership between Israel and the states in the Eastern Region," he said.
Harshavardhan Neotia, Past Chairman, CII Eastern Region, expressed hope that Ambassador Ushpiz's visit to Kolkata will deepen bonds between India and Israel.
Neotia also appealed to the Ambassador to organise Israeli business delegations to West Bengal. "Pursuing such activities will benefit the region as a whole," said Neotia who is also the Honorary Consul General, Consulate General of Israel, in Kolkata.