Indo-Israeli Free Trade Agreement is likely to be completed by the second quarter of 2013, paving the way for doubling of bi-lateral trade between the two countries.

The Israel Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, Israel Embassy, Mr Yahel Vilan, said the two sides were targeting to complete the agreement by this year, which marks the 20th year of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The sixth round of meeting is scheduled in New Delhi on August 13.

“Most major issues have been settled and there are no major obstacles now. Both the countries are doing their utmost to complete the process by the earliest,” he told media persons here today.

The Minister was confident that the FTA would facilitate doubling of the bi-lateral trade between the two countries from the current $ 5 billion over the next decade.

He said the Indo-Israeli Action Plan on Agriculture Cooperation, a three-year project for farm development in India through Israeli technology transfer, was currently covering eight states, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Bihar, Haryana and Maharashtra.

Andhra Pradesh has made a pitch for inclusion into the project. “It is for New Delhi to decide, but I will convey the request of the State Government,” Mr Vilan said.

The project envisages joint development of agriculture on the farm, technology and academic fronts. It is proposed to develop some 30 centres of excellence across these States by 2015, out of which two (one for vegetable and the other for fruits) have been set up in Haryana.

Another two will come up by this year end in Maharashtra — one for mango and the other for citrus in Nagpur. Similar centres have been proposed for dates in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan and dairy either in Haryana or Punjab.

“After the programme was implemented in Haryana, the tomato yield in certain areas has increased from 14 tonne a hectare to about 100 tonnes,” Mr Vilan said.

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