India and Israel will resume negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) from November with the intention of signing the long-pending pact by June 2022, external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid said.
The two countries held their first round of negotiations on an FTA in May 2010 but a deal has proved elusive. This is the first time the two sides have set a deadline for concluding the talks, reflecting the seriousness attached to the issue.
Since the two countries established diplomatic ties almost three decades ago, bilateral trade has grown from US$ 200 million in 1992 and reached US$ 4.14 billion (excluding defence deals) during April 2020-February 2021. The balance of trade is in India’s favour.
The foreign ministers agreed in principle on mutual recognition of vaccination certificates to ease travel amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministers also agreed to expand cooperation in water and agriculture, which, the Israeli side said, has become a “central anchor” of relations in recent years. During a meeting with the Israeli business community, Jaishankar explored the possibilities in innovation, digital, green growth and health.