India Congratulates Olmert As Israel PM

By Israel News Agency Staff

Jerusalem-----May 13......Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke yesterday with Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, who telephoned in order to congratulate him on his recent election victory and on his success in forming a government.

Indian Prime Singh said that Prime Minister Olmertís 2004 visit to India as Israel Industry, Trade and Employment Minister was a positive turning point in the promotion of bilateral relations in various fields. He added that he is committed to further promoting bilateral relations and will do his utmost to do so.

The Indian Prime Minister inquired after the health of former Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert thanked his Indian counterpart, noted that bilateral relations were developing impressively and said that he would work to upgrade them.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Israel in 1992, bilateral trade and economic relations have progressed rapidly. From a base of US$ 200 million comprising primarily of diamonds in 1992, merchandise trade has diversified and increased rapidly reaching US$ 1,273 million in 2002. With the exception of 1995 and 2001, trade volumes have grown every year.

While diamonds constituted about 65% of India's exports to Israel, the other major products were textiles ($ 80 million), chemicals ($ 46 million), rubber and plastic products ($23 million), machinery ($ 15 million) and base metals ($ 14 million). Areas of significant growth in India's exports were prepared foodstuffs (173%), rubber and plastics (145%), diamonds (88%), machinery (85%), transport equipment (78%) and chemicals (32%). Israeli exports to India grew by 31% from $473.5 million to $619.8 million.

Israel's exports excluding diamonds increased by over 7%. Principal items exported by Israel were diamonds ($ 400 million), machinery ($ 98 million), chemical products ($ 69 million) and optical, medical and other equipment ($ 21 million).

Israel and India recently signed an expanded economic cooperation agreement, which could boost annual bilateral trade to $5 billion by the end of 2007. India is currently Israel's second largest trading partner in Asia after China.

A report reveals trade grew 17% between January and September 2005.

(Partly Communicated by the Israel Prime Ministerís Media Adviser)



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