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India-Israel joint fund for R&D soon: Israeli minister
Tuesday October 8, 2013 8:25 PM, IANS

India and Israel are planning to float a joint fund for research and development (R&D) activities, visiting Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday.

"Together with discussion with the finance minister (P. Chidambaram) we are going forward with a joint R&D fund, which essentially will be a joint Indo-Israeli fund for R&D where an Israeli company will partner with Indian company and then apply for funds. It will get 50 percent of the cost of R&D project," he said at a press meet here.

"The fund will be up and running within a year," Bennett said, adding that the size of the fund is yet to be defined. He said the money will be predominantly spent on technology, innovation, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), food, water and farming.

He said his country can share its expertise in agriculture, water technology, energy, food, medicine and ICT.

During his visit, Bennett met Chidambaram, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Communications Minister Kapil Sibal.

Bennett said he had discussed foreign trade agreement (FTA) related issues with Sharma.

"I have discussed this extensively with the minister of commerce. Together we decided to progress. We will be meeting in Jerusalem in about a month from now. And the minister and I then decided again to meet in Bali in December. Both sides are very keen."

Israel wants to look upon FTA beyond merchandise, Bennett said. "It will be a green flow of goods, services and knowledgeable people. I want to look at it as Free Talent Agreement," he said.

India and Israel commenced negotiations in 2007 and concluded the seventh round of talks in June this year.

Saying that Israel is not big in retail manufacturing, Bennett added that Israel is more focused on chemicals, medicine and fertilizers.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, bilateral trade and economic relations have progressed rapidly. From $200 million in 1992, merchandise trade diversified and reached $5.15 billion in 2011 when India became the 8th largest trade partner of Israel.

Talking about Sibal's visit to Israel last year and plans about forming a joint working group on IT, Bennett said both the countries are keen to set up a joint fund in R&D in technology and communications.

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