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`Sharon's visit to boost India-Israel business ties'

September 09, 2003 17:27 IST

Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to India is set to establish a strong business platform at the highest level between India and Israel, Avigdor Itzchaky, director general, Prime Ministers Office, Israel, said.

He was talking at the India-Israel business conference, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, in New Delhi on Tuesday.

While inviting the Indian business community to invest in Israel, Itzachaky said India and Israel can double the volume of business by joining hands through joint ventures in many potential areas.

India is now Israel's second largest trading partner in Asia and the two-way trade has increased by 24.4 per cent for the first six months of 2003, reaching $784.4 million, compared to $600.9 million in the corresponding period last year.   

Yair Ofek, deputy director general, Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute, said India and Israel has the potential to become "economic superpowers".

Presenting a vivid picture of the Israeli economy, he said Israel has outstanding human capital, global economic orientation, political stability, modern hi-tech infrastructure and supportive environment, which is all the more reason for the Indian business community to double its investment in Israel.

Ofek outlined Israel's areas of excellence - Internet, software, e-commerce, biotechology and data security, which he said could be of great help to the Indian companies. Israeli economy is growing rapidly, bouncing back after the world recession, he added.

Harzle Bodinger, chairman, Defence Industry Committee of Manufacturers Association, Israel, said the fruitful tie between India and Israel goes back to some years now, and hoped that this visit would further cement the relation between the two countries.

Earlier, Sunil Kant Munjal, vice president, CII, said the two sides are meeting at a time when there is a feel good factor as far as the Indian economy is concerned. Munjal, apprising the Israeli delegation of the state of Indian economy, said that inflation is now at an all time low.

Exports are growing rapidly and India is now looking at a growth rate of more than 6 per cent, he said, adding that all these are positive indicators.

He pointed out that in order to sustain the positive growth, there is an inherent thrust for modernising and upgrading. This is where Israel can play a pivotal role, he said. Agriculture, security systems, telecom, financial services, technical education and training are some of the areas where India and Israel can cooperate, he added.

Later, at a sectoral session, Oren Most, president & CEO, Gilat Satellite Networks, in his presentation on the Israeli telecom sector, said that the country has achieved excellence in networking and network management, billing, Internet, video & image processing and wireless.

He said that Israel can help India achieve excellence in telecommunication with its expertise, which is developing at a fast pace.

Rajat Mukarji, president & CEO, Idea Cellular Ltd, while outlining the evolution of the Indian telecom sector, said that the present challenge among the players in the Indian market is the question of retaining profitability while giving value added services.

In his presentation on venture capital, Yoram Oron, founder & managing director, Vertex Venture Capital, Israel, said that venture capital is very attractive for investors and is a "crucial element in the chain of financial benefits." He said that Israel is looking for a couple of strategic investors from India, and hoped that this visit to India would be fruitful for both Israel and India.

Sunil Khairnair, chief executive officer, India Agribusiness Systems Pvt Ltd, in his presentation on the Indian agriculture sector, said that there are many areas of interest for the Israeli investors like farm management, finance, diary, where Israel can put in its expertise to help the Indian agri sector.

Erez Meltzer, director general, NETAFIM, too echoed the same sentiment.