Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar completed his tour of Israel and the UAE. The visit was considered crucial as it was the first high-level engagement between the two countries since new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett took office. The tour, considering its outcomes, has turned out to be successful and brought before the world new geopolitical alignments.
Free Trade Agreement
India and Israel have agreed to resume talks on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by next month and aim to sign the long-awaited deal by June 2022. It is the first time both countries have set a deadline for the successful conclusion of this issue.
With burgeoning defence deals, open sharing of water management and agricultural know-how, focus on start-ups and all-important cooperation in healthcare, the FTA could open a vast potential for Indo-Israel trade, which is currently nascent at $4.14 billion. Adding to it is Israel officially starting the process to join India-led’ International Solar Alliance’ (ISA). With trade as a crucial factor defining longevity and depth of bilateral relationships, FTA will only bring the two nations closer.
The India-Israel-UAE trilateral relationship is looked upon as a troika of the success of the Abraham Accords. Ilan Sztulman Starosta, the chief of the Israeli mission in UAE, has estimated the potential in innovation and international business between the UAE-Israel-India trilateral to reach $110 billion by 2030. Several trilateral agreements in education, technology, energy sectors, etc., are due or are already signed between the three countries.
India, Israel & Arab world
Until the time former US President Donald Trump got the Abraham Accords signed between Israel and some Arab countries, the relations between the two sides were sore. However, India has excellent working relations with both.
Consequently, Israeli foreign secretary, Alon Ushpiz, has said, “We want very much to look into how can the new situation in the Middle East have an Indian angle to it? How can we incorporate India into the opportunities that are emerging?” From these words, it appears that India will play a crucial role in further augmenting the Abraham Accords.
In the Indo-Pacific region, the Quad of India, the US, Japan and Australia, is successfully resisting the Chinese aggression. Just then, another Quad is emerging in the Middle East. For the first time, the foreign ministers of the US, Israel, UAE and India held a virtual joint meeting and discussed the harnessing of their ‘strategic’ ties.
The potential that this grouping, considered a possible game-changer, brings with respect to keeping a check on nuclear proliferation and activities of Turkey, Pakistan, China, etc., is significant. Time will tell how successful this endeavour will turn out to be.