In move to expand trade with Israel, India will lower diamond import tax [p. 17]

During negotiations between Israel and India on expanding bilateral trade and investment relations, India last week announced its intention to lower the country's diamond import tax by early next year. The announcement was made by India's Minister of Industry and Trade, Kamal Nath, during a visit with an Israeli business delegation led by Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Eli Yishai. Currently, Israel's diamond exports to India comprise 70 percent of Israel's total exports to that country. The two countries also agreed to examine ways of increasing economic cooperation and expanding trade in a variety of industries including agriculture, security, technology, communication products, biotechnology, and finance. The Israel Export Institute, organizer of the delegation of 30 Israeli business representatives - including from Alvarion, Arad Technologies, Bank Hapoalim, the Elul Group, BDO Ziv Haft, Gadiv Petrochemical Industries and Gaon Agro Industries - said the 300 meetings were expected to yield business deals worth $200m. over each of the next two years. In addition, the ministers agreed to establish a working group on the issue of water technology standards and sanitary measures. India has 200 federal standards in the field of water. Yishai said cooperation with India in the field of standardization was expected to help Israeli companies to penetrate the Indian market. Furthermore, Yishai announced that his ministry was preparing a research paper on the feasibility of a free trade agreement between the two countries to enhance bi-lateral trade. Nath also confirmed Yishai's invitation to head a business delegation to Israel in 2007. On Wednesday, Yishai conducted a business seminar in New Delhi bringing together Israeli and Indian companies. Some 120 business meetings were conducted in Mumbai, the country's commercial hub, during the four-day visit, while in Goa, the delegation took part in a business seminar and one-on-one meetings with business people in the fields of agriculture, biotechnology and water technology.