10. Economic and trade relations between India and Israel are growing, but are still far from reaching their full potential. Indo-Israeli trade represents approximately 3 percent of India’s trade with the Middle East. The two countries have been discussing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) since 2010, without yet reaching a positive conclusion. India could offer Israel a huge market because there is considerable compatibility between India’s development needs and Israel’s scientific, technological, and innovative capacities. But Israeli businesspeople often have difficulties gaining a foothold in India, and prominent Indian businesspeople have, until recently, not visited Israel and have not invested there. This may be changing now. But even if it is, bureaucratic hurdles remain, such as Israel’s reluctance to grant multi-entry visas to Indian bussinesspeople. There are also significant differences in the two countries’ business cultures, which can raise important obstacles to increased trade.
- Create and fund new mechanisms and initiatives to stimulate Indo-Israeli trade, investment, and technology links, with the aim of tripling Indo-Israeli trade from approximately $5 billion in 2014 to $15 billion over the next 10 to 15 years.
- Continue and accelerate discussions toward the signing of a FTA between India and Israel, and address bureaucratic obstacles that might delay a positive conclusion.
- Expand assistance to facilitate the successful entry of Israeli entrepreneurs into the Indian market by doubling the number of economic attachés in Israel’s embassy and consulates.
- Open an India information center to centralize assistance to Israeli small- and medium-sized companies.
- Invite half of India’s small but important economic elite, approximately 2500 of 5000 persons, to visit Israel in the next ten years.
- Use Israel’s start-up and innovation potential to attract Indian investments and form significantly more joint ventures.
- To achieve these aims, use bi-annual conferences and workshops, match-making services between Israeli start-ups and Indian large-scale manufacturers and cooperation with Indian technology institutes. The large investment of the Indian conglomerate TATA in Tel Aviv University (2013) to generate technology transfer is a model to be emulated.
- Offer cultural training programs for Israeli entrepreneurs interested in the Indian market, in order to address cultural misunderstandings and differences that have already impeded Indo-Israeli business ties.
11. Indian tourism to Israel is small, but could be much larger thereby increasing Israel’s tourism revenue, broadening people-to-people contacts, and making Israel better known in India. Israeli government efforts to stimulate Indian tourism have been insufficient.
- Triple the number of Indian tourists to Israel from 40,000 to 120,000 in the next five to ten years.
- Launch a tourism campaign to reach India’s growing middle class, showing Israel’s attractions, from ancient historical and religious sites to nature reserves and beaches, and its varied cultural life.
- Create particular incentives for India’s estimated 25 million Christians to visit Israel as pilgrims. Today, Christians constitute the majority of Indian tourists coming to Israel.
12. India’s energy needs continue to draw it into the Middle East. The Gulf states provide most of India’s oil and gas, which is their largest market after China. Israel cannot change the interdependence between India and the Gulf states, including Iran, but it could make a contribution to decreasing India’s dependence.
- Explore whether and how India might benefit from Israel’s new gas resources earmarked for export.
- Invite India to participate in Israel’s numerous research efforts in solar and other non-conventional energy sectors. In the conventional energy sector, offer India technological cooperation to develop clean coal technologies (coal is India’s main energy source).