India, Israel to renew negotiations on FTA

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    • Recently, India and Israel agreed to resume long-pending negotiations on a free trade agreement, as External Affairs Minister met his Israeli counterpart in Jerusalem 
      • Israel accepts travel for Indians with Covishield jab.

    Key Highlights of the recent meeting between Foreign Ministers of two Nations

    • Free Trade Agreement:
      • The push for an FTA between the two countries is the latest in a series of attempts to negotiate a trade agreement over the past 14 years. 
      • Both in 2007, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and in 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that an FTA would be completed, 
        • But talks have lapsed over a number of issues, including Israel’s reluctance to include an agreement on services in trade.
      • During the last round of talks, both sides explored the possibility of a Preferential Trade Agreement for about 200 goods.
        • It had also not been concluded. 
    • Vaccine Diplomacy: 
      • India and Israel have agreed to mutually recognise each other’s vaccination process “in principle”.
      • Although for the moment Israel will only allow Indians vaccinated with Covishield to travel there.
      • As Covaxin is still awaiting an Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the World Health Organisation.
    • Quadrilateral Meeting:
      • The quadrilateral meeting is an outcome of last year’s Abraham Accords.
      • Which was brokered by the U.S. to establish diplomatic ties between UAE and Israel,
      •  It also underlines India’s close relationships with both the West Asian countries and Washington.

    Reasons for Trade Negotiations

    • The latest effort for an FTA with Israel comes on the back of the government’s recent drive to resume a number of trade negotiations
    • The government has so far committed to resuming talks with the U.K., Australia and the European Union, 
      • Expressing the hope they would also be concluded in 2022.
    • It will open the Israeli market for Indian businesses in a more favourable way.

    India-Israel Cooperation

    • Both the countries have helped each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bilateral relations between India and Israel are extensive.
    • Green Growth – Green Economy:
      • Israel would join the India-France led International Solar Alliance (ISA), ahead of the next U.N. Climate Change COP26 summit in Glasgow.
      • It will help tackle climate change and also cooperation on technology to mitigate its effects. 
    • Military Relations:
      • Both are trying to create a new QUAD with UAE and USA.
      • India is the largest buyer of military equipment from Israel 
        • While Israel is the second-largest supplier of military equipment to India following Russia. 
      • Military and strategic ties also extend to joint military training and intelligence-sharing on terrorist groups.
    • Water and Agriculture:
      • Israel is one of the foremost technology superpowers in areas like
        • rainwater harvesting, 
        • use of oceanic water and 
        • using that for irrigation in the driest land.
      • It helps India to face its water-stressed condition. 
    • Economic Relations:
      • India is one of the largest Asian trade partners of Israel. 
      • Both the countries are negotiating an extensive bilateral free-trade agreement that focuses on areas like 
        • biotechnology, 
        • information technology and 
        • agriculture.

    Way Ahead

    • Expedite talks on FTA:
      • The two sides must expedite talks on trade and investment in an effort to take bilateral ties to the next level.
      • A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as well as a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) at the “earliest” would forge greater business-to-business ties.
    • Enhancing Global Impact:
      • Indian and Israeli innovation ecosystems together can create a global impact.
      • It will scale up India’s manufacturing sectors.
      • It will also bring greater partnership in new R&D projects in India in areas like digital healthcare, agriculture and water.
    • Shifting gears into a new phase:
      • Benjamin Netanyahu, previous PM of Israel, termed Israel’s relations with India as a “marriage made in heaven but consecrated here on earth“. 

    New QUAD

    • Members:
      • India
      • UAE
      • Israel
      • USA
    • The group will act as an “international economic forum”.
      • It will work on furthering the economic and political ties between the four countries.
    • Agenda of the group 
      • Geopolitical Cooperation:
        • It is likely to be India’s only new coalition in the region. 
        • It will provide a thrust to new regionalism to the west involving India.
      • Extended neighbourhood
        • It will open the door for extending the collaboration with other common regional partners like 
          • Egypt (Suez Canal), which will lend great strategic depth to the Indo-Abrahamic accords.
      • Technology cooperation
        • Beyond trade, there is potential for India, UAE and Israel to collaborate on 
          • semiconductor design, fabrication to space technology etc
      • Economic Cooperation
        • Focus on non-military issues like trade, energy, and environment and focus on promoting public goods.
    • It will open up new opportunities for India to go for deeper engagement with Israel without risking its relations with the other Arab states of the Persian Gulf.

    Source: TH