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Talks on India-Israel free trade agreement to be held soon

VADODARA: Talks on India-Israel free trade agreement (FTA) will be held very soon and the pact would be a "strategic game changer" in trade relations, Orna Sagiv, Consulate General of Israel in Mumbai today said here. 

The FTA is expected to give a huge fillip to the bilateral trade volume between the two countries. 

Speaking at the farewell function held in her honour in the city today, Sagiv said, "I am confident the bilateral trade volume will jump from the current USD 5 billion to USD 10-15 billion in a few years' time after the FTA." 

The 'Friends of Israel Society' had organised this function as Sagiv is returning to Israel after completing her five-year term in India. 

She said that FTA would change the composition of trade between the two countries and that it would be a "strategic game changer" in trade relations. "The minute we have the FTA in place, the intensity of interactions will be on a much higher level," she said. 

The Israeli diplomat said that water management and dairy could be the "thrust areas" in technological collaboration between the two countries in coming days. 

She also spoke about the Centre of Excellence (COE) for vegetables, an Indo-Israel project at Gharunda Karnal (Haryana). "Now, this project has become the cluster head for nine other states including Gujarat," she said. 

Sagiv said that two COEs in Gujarat are dedicated for growing mangoes in Gir, while the third COE raises awareness regarding post-harvest treatment of date palms and bananas. She said the COE is a complete government-to-government engagement with no-profit motive." 

"Drip irrigation using recycled water is what we practise in Israel, while water from de-salination plant is supplied to houses. It is this philosophy that we share with Gujarat," she added. 

Sagiv said that tourist office will be soon opened in Mumbai as number of Indian visitors to Israel have been increasing every year. 

The diplomat said that India is known in Israel as an ancient nation with strong cultural traditions. 

"Israeli youth are particularly attracted to India, and about 40,000 Israelis visit india annually," she said. 

City mayor Bharat Somchand Shah, Dr 
Hitendra Patel, Chairman of the standing committee of the Vadodara municipal corporation, M H Mehta former vice chancellor of agriculture university of Gujarat and Niku Contractor, President of 'The friends of Israeli Society' also spoke on the occasion.