UAE, India, Israel ties win-win for all: Envoy

Visit of the delegation to Tel Aviv is significant as India sees the Emirates as a corridor to scale up trade and commerce



Sanjeev Singla, Ambassador of India to Israel (R), Mohamed Al Khaja, Ambassador of UAE to Israel (L) and Rajan Navani, CII Mission Leader, Chairman (C) during the CII Business Delegation meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo by Neeraj Murali.
Sanjeev Singla, Ambassador of India to Israel (R), Mohamed Al Khaja, Ambassador of UAE to Israel (L) and Rajan Navani, CII Mission Leader, Chairman (C) during the CII Business Delegation meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo by Neeraj Murali.

By Allan Jacob in Tel Aviv

Published: Mon 12 Sep 2022, 10:25 PM

Last updated: Tue 13 Sep 2022, 10:27 AM

The UAE strives for a "righteous narrative’’ and is keen to connect people and businesses from India to Israel from its unique position in the Middle East. "Linking people together and making new friends is what makes businesses stronger,’’ said Mohamed Al Khaja, the UAE’s Ambassador to Israel, in Tel Aviv on Monday.

"The Abraham Accords with Israel was a new beginning,’’ said the envoy during an interaction with a business delegation led by the Confederation of Indian Industry.

With the pandemic nearing its end, the UAE has moved swiftly since to sign bilateral Comprehensive Economic Agreements (Cepa) with both India and Israel. It has plans for over 20 such bilateral agreements with other countries. Ambassador Khaja said that since the signing of Cepa with Israel, there’s been a major interest among companies in both the countries to make use of the opportunities that present themselves while taking people-to-people ties to another level. He said there’s a new-found entrepreneurial zeal between the business communities in the two countries which is a sign of the changing times.

"Very often, business is a truer marker of a relationship between two countries. What’s encouraging is that business is returning to normal after the pandemic,’’ said Sanjeev Singla, Indian Ambassador to Israel, who emphasised that building blocks have been laid for business ties to grow. Industry leaders should take it forward with their counterparts in respective countries, he added.

The visit of the delegation to Israel is significant as India sees the UAE as a corridor to scale up trade and commerce while expanding other sectors and to other countries. The delegation had business leaders not just from India but the UAE too.

Singla said that better connectivity between India and Israel, and with the UAE being the bridge, the two sides are targeting trade figures of $10 billion over the next five years.

India’s annual trade with the UAE currently stands at $70 billion, and Cepa could drive it to over $100 billion in the next five years.

"When you put these three countries together, there are complementary strengths that we seek to enhance – innovative and unique industry like technology in Israel; connectivity and commercial strengths of the UAE; and the Indian market which is large, and a dynamic economy.’’

Indian businesses were also advised to do due diligence as they enter the Israeli market and forge partnerships.

On Monday, the heightened activity and enthusiasm in the UAE-India-Israel relationship was evident following two years of the Abraham Accords, and the ebbing of the pandemic. It was buzzing during the visit by the Indian business leaders who appeared impatient to get things moving as if to make up for lost time. Business delegations were busy meeting over coffee, networking, talking challenges and perceptions of challenges on both sides.

Anat Bernstein-Reich, chair of the Israel-India Chamber of Commerce, admitted cultural differences exist but Indian and Israeli business leaders could surmount them if they build trust after studying the market while scouting for sectors to work together.

Industry leaders on both sides were upbeat about prospects and are seeking new avenues for business as they seek to build on the I2U2 (India, Israel, UAE, US).

Rajan Navani, head of the CII delegation of Israel, said the "difficult phase’’ is over and it’s important to look to the future with hope under the grouping.

"How do we take I2U2 forward? Indian companies looking at doing more out of the UAE could be a start. The objective is to listen and build on the conversation we have begun among all sides,’’ he said.

Sudhir Kumar, senior partner with Kreston Menon, said the India-UAE-Israel synergy is good for the economies of the countries. His firm is already assisting companies and is receiving enquiries. "The activity is picking up and we hope this visit will open new doors for Indian and UAE companies looking to widen their horizons.''

For Manish Mohan, senior director, CII, the sky is the limit for India and Israel, and with the UAE being a long-term and trusted partner, the best is yet to come.

allan@khaleejtimes.com

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