President Reuven Rivlin meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
India is no longer just a heaven for post army Israeli treks looking for an exotic get away from modern life.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push to turn his country of 1.2 billion people into a super power, makes it also a fertile market for Israeli business and investors, according to Anat Bernstein- Reich, the chair of the Israeli-India Chamber of Commerce.
She was part of the large business delegation, led by the Israel Manufacturing Association that accompanied President Reuven Rivlin during his eight-day trip to India.
Israeli businesses still naturally lean westward when it comes to growth and expansion, she said. In talking with them about new investment opportunities she often uses the line from the famous Yehuda HaLevy poem, “my heart is in the East.”
“I am telling them look east, and it’s not just China. India [offers] vast opportunities,” she said adding that many of them have come from steps Modi is taking to modernize his country.
This includes programs to digitize India from the government offices to rural villages, Bernstein-Reich said.
“It’s a huge project with enormous potential,” she added.
With respect to agriculture, India wants to grow more with less, offering opportunities for Israeli companies using smart technology for precision agriculture where soil analysis helps farmers eliminate wasted resources, she said.
Israeli expertise in drip irrigation is also indispensable for India, she added.
When it comes to the defense industry, India is also the largest importer of defense equipment, which is a most important market for Israel today.
As an example, she pointed to the long term $10 billion deal reported earlier this year in Globes, between the Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems signed with Reliance Defense for the production of air-to-air missiles and air defense systems.
Bi-lateral trade between the countries is about $4.5 billion, with the Manufacturers Association of Israel which is looking to triple that trade in the coming years.
Bernstein-Reich said it is hard to know the exact trade figures, because defense trade is not completely public and an Israeli-owned company located outside of Israeli would not necessarily be included in the statistics, she said.
The numbers also include the diamond industry, she said.
The business opportunities are made easier by India’s willingness to go public about its relationship to Israel, she added.
The two-countries have had diplomatic relationship for 25 years, but it is only recently that India, under Modi, has been so public about its friendship and ties with Israel, Bernstein-Reich said.