Israel, India to resume free trade talks

Lapid thanked Jaishankar for his visit, marking the start of celebrations of 30 years of ties between the countries.

Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (L) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R). October 18, 2021. (photo credit: AVI HAYUN/FOREIGN MINISTRY)
Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (L) and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R). October 18, 2021.
(photo credit: AVI HAYUN/FOREIGN MINISTRY)

Israel and India intend to sign a free-trade agreement by the middle of 2022, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, announced Monday.

Free-trade negotiations between the countries are set to resume in November.

Lapid thanked Jaishankar for his visit, marking 30 years of ties between the two countries.

“We see India as an important ally for many years,” Lapid said. “India also brings new opportunities for cooperation.”

Jaishankar and Lapid participated with Energy Minister Karin Elharrar in a ceremony to mark Israel’s joining the International Solar Alliance, which was established by India and France in 2015.

 Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (credit: AVI HAYUN/FOREIGN MINISTRY) Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (credit: AVI HAYUN/FOREIGN MINISTRY)

Joining the alliance will allow the Jewish state to contribute its knowledge and experience on solar power, Elharrar said.

“Joining the ISA, along with over 80 countries that are blessed with sunlight and are advancing solar energy, will allow Israel to contribute and gain from the global battle against climate change and promote solutions together for a greener future,” she said.

Elharrar expressed hope that Israel’s membership in the ISA will encourage Israeli entrepreneurs to bring about new developments in the area of solar energy.

Jaishankar’s visit comes amid a warming of ties between Delhi and Jerusalem since the election of Narendra Modi as prime minister of India in 2014. Modi visited Israel in 2017.

Jaishankar and Lapid discussed further cooperation in the areas of water and agriculture, which the Foreign Ministry said has become a central element in relations between the countries.

They also agreed on mutual recognition of their countries’ vaccine certificates.

Lapid said Israel and India had helped one another during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That is how friends and partners act,” he said.

The ministers and their wives also visited the Shalva Center, which provides services for people with disabilities and their families. The Shalva Band, made up of students from the center, performed a song in the Hindi language, and the two couples ate at Cafe Shalva, which is staffed by disabled workers.

Jaishankar met with Israeli and Indian business leaders on Sunday evening and called for increasing trade ties between the countries.

“We regard Israel as our most trusted and most innovative partner,” he said.

Jaishankar’s trip began during the Blue Flag aerial exercise in Israel, in which Israeli, Indian, US, German, Italian, French, Greek and UK air forces took part.

Zev Stub contributed to this report.