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India-Israel sign bilateral agreements on energy, cyber security

BusinessToday.in     January 15, 2018

On Day 2 of his maiden visit to India, second by any Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu held delegartion-level talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM Modi invited Israeli defence companies to take advantage of the liberalized FDI regime to make more in India with Indian companies. The two countries also inked 9 MoUs in areas like oil and gas, air transport, space, etc.

In the joint statement, the two leaders also expressed desire to scale up the existing Centers of Excellence in India which have been a main-stay of agricultural cooperation between the two countries by bringing in advanced Israeli practices and technology. We are venturing into less explored areas of cooperation, such as oil and gas, cyber security, films, and start-ups, PM Modi said in his address.

"Thriving two-way trade and investment is an integral part of our vision for a strong partnership... After the meeting in Tel Aviv last year, we will interact for the second time with our CEOs under the bilateral Forum," PM Modi added.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's six-day visit to India is a historic occasion because he is only the second Israeli leader to come to India since Ariel Sharon's 2003 trip. Netanyahu is accompanied by a 130-member delegation comprising of individuals from agriculture, cyber and defence sectors.

Earlier, in an exclusive conversation with Raj Chengappa, India Today's Group Editorial Director (Publishing), the Israeli premier talked optimistically about an Indo-Israel partnership, saying that it is "a marriage made in heaven but consecrated here on earth". Among the things he hopes to concentrate on during this visit is cooperation in technological areas, especially agriculture. "Can you imagine drones for agriculture? That is what Israel can do for the Indian farm," said Netanyahu, explaining how the big data and photographs of fields collected by drones can help farmers to "direct the water to the level of the individual plant". This will, thus, help India produce more crops for less-less water, less energy. "This is using technology to change not only the future, but to change lives today to make people healthier, safer, better nursed and to live longer, better lives. This is one area I intend to concentrate on but there are many others," he added.

When asked his opinion for taking Indo-Israel relations beyond diamonds and defence, Netanyahu had a short, candid answer: Free trade agreements. Or at least, moving in that direction, as he put it. To illustrate his point, Netanyahu gave the example of the auto industry. "India has a very well-known auto industry," he said but pointed out that though Israel's auto industry was just five years old, it was already turning out to be a leader in the field. "We have 500 start-ups that just deal with automotive technology or autonomous vehicles. Because [going forward] 85% of a car is going to be software and just 15% will be hardware," he explained. In other words, cars of the future will be "basically a computer on wheels", and this is where Israel is a pioneer. "Our car industry receives billions of dollars of investments every year. Why shouldn't we have the same partnership between us and Indian car manufacturers?  And this can happen everywhere, be it digital health, water, energy, transportation, IT... And all this is before you discuss security," said Netanyahu.

Read the full text of joint statement

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to India from 14 to 19 January 2018 closes a momentous twenty fifth anniversary year of India-Israel relationship and its growing partnership. The summit level meetings between the Republic of India and the State of Israel that commenced with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's historic visit to Israel from 4 to 6 July 2017, have further strengthened the bonds between the two governments and peoples and have consolidated the foundation for their Strategic Partnership.

The two Prime Ministers share a common vision for the relationship. They believe that in the next twenty-five years the two respective countries should strive to raise bilateral cooperation in diverse sectors to a qualitatively new level in consonance with our Strategic Partnership.

Both sides are working together on a Five Year Joint Work Plan for strategic cooperation in Agriculture and Water. Both sides also agreed to deepen cooperation in innovation, business and trade, space, homeland security and cyber, higher education and research, science and technology, tourism and culture. The two prime ministers noted with satisfaction the commencement and implementation of India-Israel development cooperation - three-year work programme in Agriculture (2018-2020) under the stewardship of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MASHAV) and the Ministry of Agriculture of India aimed at increasing farmers' productivity and optimization of water use efficiency. The two Prime Ministers were apprised of state of progress on the twenty-eight Centres of Excellence that are being jointly established in different States of India, and noted with satisfaction that seven more Centres of Excellence have become operational in the last six months since the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Israel. The two Prime Ministers will be visiting Centre of Excellence in Vadrad, Gujarat and will inaugurate the Centre of Excellence in Bhuj, Gujarat, during this visit.

The Prime Ministers welcomed the completion of all formalities for the launch of the India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F) that was announced during Prime Minister Modi's visit to Israel. During this visit, both the Prime Ministers will launch the first Call for Proposals under the fund to encourage enterprises from both countries to utilize this significant platform for undertaking joint R&D projects in innovative and futuristic technologies and products for the benefit of the two peoples. They underscored the role of youth in enhancing future collaboration in innovation, and have decided to commence an annual exchange of visits of one hundred youth from the science streams.

The two Prime Ministers commended the decision of the respective Ministries of Science and Technology to commence nine joint R&D projects in the areas of big data analytics in health care and security in cyber space, in pursuance of their decision in July 2017 to upgrade scientific and technological collaboration. Further, in order to build a strong network between the next generation of the best women scientists and technologists of the two countries, an India-Israel Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Symposium will be organized in October, 2018 in India. The two Prime Ministers also noted with satisfaction that the Heads of the Indian Space Research Organization and the Israel Space Agency have met in November 2017 to discuss the implementation of the two MoU's and one Plan of Cooperation signed between the two space agencies.

The two Prime Ministers welcomed the initiation of cooperation between India and Israel in the energy sector with the signing of an MoU on Cooperation in the Oil and Gas sector that will promote, inter alia, collaboration in the upstream sectors, research and development in future technologies and start-ups in oil and gas. They also noted the intention of Indian public sector companies and Israeli companies to begin collaboration in the areas of metal air batteries for stationary energy storage systems and in solar thermal technologies, and urge industry on both sides to explore business collaboration in new energy technologies. Welcoming the initiative taken by India to establish the International Solar Alliance to promote renewable energy for sustainable development in the context of climate change, Israel declared its willingness to become a Partner Country. The two Prime Ministers urge research institutions and industry to collaborate, including in third countries, to promote greater use of solar technologies through the International Solar Alliance.

The two Prime Ministers agreed that renewed efforts are required to realize the full potential for bilateral trade and investment, and took note of the next round of discussions between the two sides to be held in February 2018 in Israel. Underlining the role of the private sector in trade and investment, both Prime Ministers urged the private sector to actively explore investment opportunities in both countries, including through the India's flagship programmes such as Make in India, Start-Up India and Digital India. They also expressed their satisfaction that the India-Israel CEO Forum, established in July 2017 during Prime Minister Modi's visit to Israel, held its second meeting in India during this visit. In this context both Prime Ministers also recalled the importance of facilitating the movement of business persons through simplification of visa regulations, fast-tracking of visa applications, issuing of multiple entry visa, especially for the information technology and new technology sectors.

Recognizing the important contribution made by Indian caregivers in Israel, the two Prime Ministers agreed to embark upon negotiations in 2018 in order to move forward as speedily as possible and to the satisfaction of both sides towards an early bilateral agreement. In this respect, a delegation from India will be invited to Israel in the first half of 2018.

Noting that doing trade and business also requires better connectivity, the two Prime Ministers have decided to expedite the conclusion of an Agreement on Maritime Transport that will encourage greater business between the shipping organizations of India and Israel, and create new opportunities in maritime services and training. They hope that this Agreement will also encourage wider cooperation in development of maritime business and Israel's participation in the Sagarmala Project.

The two Prime Ministers are convinced that enhanced people-to-people contacts will forge the strongest bonds of friendship between India and Israel in the future. They deemed it essential to enhance connectivity between the two countries through the signing of a Protocol Amending Air Transport Agreement to expand the scope of cooperation in the civil aviation sector.

An Indian Cultural Centre will open in Israel in 2018 in pursuance of the Prime Minister of India's desire to promote greater cultural understanding. Both sides have signed an MoU in Film Co-Production in recognition of the role that films play in promoting people-to-people contact.

Both Prime Ministers agreed to holding Festivals of India and Israel in their respective countries in the Year 2019 as a further step to solidify friendship between the peoples of both countries.

Both Prime Ministers noted the readiness of Israeli companies to enter into joint ventures with Indian companies in the defence sector under the Make in India initiative. They consider it important to set the direction for developing more business models and partnerships for the joint ventures and joint manufacturing, including transfer of technology as well as joint research and development in defence and security fields. They call on the Defence Ministries to hold discussions in 2018 with active involvement of the public and private sectors, in order to create the basis for viable, sustainable and long term cooperation in the defence industry.

Recognizing the grave threat that terrorism poses to peace and security including from non-state actors, both Prime Ministers reiterated that there can be no justification for acts of terror on any grounds whatsoever and advocated strong measures against terrorists, terror organizations, those who sponsor, encourage or finance terrorism or provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups. They also noted with satisfaction that the next meeting of the Joint Working Groups on Homeland and Public Security will be held in February 2018. They reiterated the importance of building comprehensive cooperation in counter-terrorism, including cyber-space, and welcome the signing of the MoU on Cooperation in Cyber Security between India and Israel.

The two Prime Ministers understand the significance of sharing their respective development experiences with other countries. They agreed to explore ways to develop joint programmes of assistance for third countries in the areas of training, capacity building, and the development of small projects in the agriculture, water, health-care and education sectors. They asked their respective Foreign Ministries to commence discussions in this regard in 2018.

The two Prime Ministers discussed the developments pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process. They reaffirmed their support for an early resumption of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians for arriving at a comprehensive negotiated solution on all outstanding issues, based on mutual recognition and effective security arrangements, for establishing a just and durable peace in the region.

The two Prime Ministers believe that durable and multifaceted cooperation is beneficial for the welfare of the people of both countries, and consider the next twenty five years as an opportune time to strengthen bonds between the peoples of India and Israel through activities that enhance understanding and create opportunities for mutual progress. They agree to continue high level exchanges and to maintain dialogue in all areas, and to work in practical ways for the benefit of their peoples.

Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked Prime Minister Modi, the people of India and Government of India for their gracious welcome and hospitality.

 


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