Preparations Completed for Historic Visit by Indian Prime Minister

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (L) and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, India, in November. (Reuters/Adnan Abidi, File)

Preparations were completed on Monday night for the historic visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The gala greeting at Ben Gurion airport on Tuesday will include hundreds of invited guests, a hundred journalists, a 174-foot red carpet, speakers’ platforms and more.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be on hand for his counterpart’s arrival and is scheduled to accompany him during the visit.

This is the first visit by an Indian prime minister to Israel and coincides with the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the countries.

PM Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting on Monday that “Tomorrow, my friend Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in Israel; India is the largest democracy in the world. This is an historic first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Israel in 70 years and it attests to the fact that our relations with India have become closer in recent years.

“This is the fruit of my and his initiated policy. We discussed it several years ago at our first meeting at the U.N. in New York and afterward in Davos, and our governments and peoples are sharing in this effort to build a strong friendship between us.

“This visit will deepen cooperation in a range of areas – security, agriculture, water, energy, almost every field in which Israel is engaged. I will accompany the Prime Minister at many events during his visit as befits the leader of the largest democracy in the world,” Netanyahu said.

As part of their schedules, the prime ministers of India and Israel are expected to attend the opening of a ‘CEO Forum,’ a forum for CEOs from both countries, that will include CEOs of Indian mega-corporations.

In addition, Modi will get an up-close look at groundbreaking Israeli innovation throughout Israel – including innovative solutions in water and agriculture, led by the Israel Innovation Authority. He will also sign a new agreement to promote R&D cooperation between Israeli and Indian companies.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry, since the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Israel in 1992, trade between the countries has grown from $200 million in 1992 to $4.13 billion in 2016 (including diamonds). In 2015, Israeli exports experienced a 21% increase, reaching $1.29 Billion. In 2016, there was a slight dip (13%), with Israeli exports totaling $1.15 billion (excluding diamonds).

Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen: “India is a key export market for Israel. Tightening Relations with India and this historic visit of the Indian Prime Minister will lead, beyond increasing security exports, to growth in trade in goods and services. The Indian economy is becoming a prime destination for Israeli exports, with its 1.3 billion consumers, led by 300 million citizens in the middle and upper-middle class, with purchasing power equal to the middle class of Western economies. The Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry – through its Foreign Trade Administration and array of three trade missions in India – helps Israeli exporters open up the Indian market, which undoubtedly holds tremendous economic and trade potential.”

India represents one of Israel’s most important export markets. In 2016, India was ranked 9th among Israeli trade destinations. This can be attributed to warming bilateral relations, which have been significantly strengthened in recent years. Several joint ventures have been launched in the fields of agriculture, science, health, IT, telecommunications along with other joint-industrial cooperation. Both sides are eager to cooperate on other issues as well, such as water technology and smart cities. As of today, India is Israel’s second largest trade partner in Asia, after China.

Since the 1990s, the governments of Israel and India have signed a variety of cooperation agreements in the sectors of agriculture, communications, trade, investment, R&D, environmental protection, water and medicine. One agreement soon to be signed is the Karnataka-Israel R&D program, a $40 million joint fund to leverage economic cooperation between the two sides.

Many Israeli companies have established offices and even production facilities in India. These include Teva, Netafim, CheckPoint, Amdocs, Magic Software, Ness Technologies, Mobileye, and HP Indigo as well as Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit, Verint, and others.

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