The biggest democracy in the world and the only democracy in the Middle East are both celebrating the election of Narendra Modi as India’s new prime minister.
Modi has long promoted trade with Israel, and his accession to power likely heralds a flourishing bilateral relationship.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a congratulatory phone call to Modi following his victory on Friday, and the two leaders agreed to deepen cooperation between the two countries, according to a Reuters report.
“Modi’s ties to Israel, which his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strongly endorses, has turned into a financial bonanza for the western Indian province of Gujarat, where he has served as chief minister for the past 13 years,” according to the International Business Times.
During a visit to Israel during his tenure in Gujarat, he suggested that, “as the possible next prime minister, he could make history by journeying to Israel,” the report read.
Israel has reportedly invested billions into the province in industrial research and development, agriculture, solar and thermal power, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure, water recycling and water desalination plants.
Israel’s consul general in Mumbai, Jonathan Miller, said that Israel is looking to a free-trade agreement with India in the near future, Arutz Sheva reported.
Next week, one of the largest tech industry delegations from India ever is scheduled to arrive. Some 30 Indian companies, large and small, plan to have booths at the India Pavilion at the Tel Aviv MIXiii 2014 conference.
According to Vani Rao, deputy chief of mission in the Embassy of India, “Israel and India already do a lot of business in several areas, including agriculture and diamonds, with the latter accounting for about half the current $5 billion in trade between our countries. Interest in Israel from the information technology sector has been increasing in recent years as well, with Indian companies seeking to partner with Israeli start-up and veteran companies on development projects.”
Not included in that $5 billion figure is defense trade between Israel and India, Rao noted. New Delhi is the largest weapons buyer in the world and Israel is one of the major exporters.