Against the backdrop of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) being finalised between India and Israel as they celebrate 20 years of diplomatic relations, the two nations have signed pacts to boost the textiles business.
India’s Ministry of Textile and Israel’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Labour signed an MoU on the sidelines of the first India International Apparel and Textile Trade show here to expand business in areas such as cotton, jute, silk handlooms, clothing and fashion industries.
Around 30 leading Indian manufacturers of apparels and textile have put up the show in Tel Aviv to tap the Israeli market.
Indian textiles Secretary Kiran Dhingra and the Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Labour, Sharon Kedmi signed the MoU that includes exchanging delegations to take this initiative forward.
India’s Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) also signed a separate MoU with the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute (IEAICI).
AEPC Chairman A Sakthivel expressed the hope of a major leap in the volume of trade.
“This is just the beginning. Next year we will see even more enthusiasm because once FTA is signed between the two countries it will give a big boost to bilateral trade,” Sakthivel told agency.
AEPC and IEAICI outlined cooperation in the field of clothing and fashion industries, innovative technologies and possible solutions for the Textile Industry as focus areas to enhance bilateral trade and economic relations.
Meanwhile, Dhingra said the initiative would further deepen ties between the two countries and she “would like to see a lot more Israelis wearing Indian clothes”.
She added, “I am happy to be here when India and Israel commemorate 20 years of diplomatic ties. We know the strength you have in textiles and the very high value added end of it that you work upon. India has strength along the entire value chain. You name the fibre and we seem to be able to grow it.”
“What we have been able to bring to Israel is not a very large share of either your market or our capability of production. And we would like to be able to deepen that relationship and would like to see a lot more Israelis wearing Indian clothes.”
Indian clothes are quite popular in Israel and enjoy wider visibility in the Israeli markets and shopping malls.
With several thousand Israeli youngsters visiting India every year, mostly immediately after finishing their mandatory army service, Indian designer clothes have gained very high popularity in Tel Aviv.
Israel’s former Minister of Education Yuli Tamir, who heads the Shenkar Institute of Design and was the Chief Guest at the function said: “Design in India has always being fascinating for us and we would be very proud and honoured to be part of this partnership”.
He also said, “We are very keen to see our students going to India to participate in workshops there. We are also very keen to host workshops in our school of lectures and practitioners coming from India.”
Charge d’affaires at the Indian embassy, Vani Rao said that amid deepening political engagement with Israel, marked by the visit of four senior cabinet ministers this year, several business delegations have also kept on visiting in Tel Aviv to give a boost to economic cooperation.
India’s textiles industry has turnover of more than USD 80 billion, but it constitutes only about 5 per cent of the USD 5.5 billion trade between India and Israel that is dominated by diamonds, which alone account for more than 50 per cent of the total.
“With the western markets almost saturated, markets like Israel are a good option for us. It is also quite well known that the purchasing power capacity here is quite high and people buy do indulge in shopping clothes,” said an Indian Exhibitor, Nirad Jhaveri.
Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said he hoped that the signing of FTA will treble the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries.
Israel has also created a special fund to boost exports to India which has been identified by it as one of the preferred destinations for selling its products.
The two day exhibition has been organised by AEPC in cooperation with the Indian mission in Tel Aviv.