German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said that he would personally make sure that the India-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations did not drag on as both Germany and India were interested in its speedy conclusion.
Scholz, who is on a two-day state visit to India, also highlighted the sufferings caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine and stressed on strengthening Indo-German economic co-operation and collaboration in areas such as R&D in the IT sector, climate change, green energy and migration and mobility.
“We (Germany and India) further want to deepen trade relations between EU and India. And that is why both of us speak out strongly for the negotiations for FTA and investment protection to be speedily concluded. I will personally make sure this does not drag on,” Scholz said in his joint media address with Prime Minister Narendra Modi after their bilateral talks and meeting with business delegations on Saturday.
Scholz’s assurance on the India-EU FTA is important as it is the second time the two partners are attempting to forge a pact. The first attempt for an FTA was suspended in 2013 after six years of tricky negotiations. Formal negotiations on an India-EU FTA and investment protection agreement re-started last year and are reportedly facing some challenges in the areas of market access, among others.
Modi, in his address, pointed out that Germany was not only India’s largest trading partner in Europe but also an important destination for foreign investments. He said a number of important agreements were reached between business delegates accompanying the Chancellor and business leaders from India in their meeting.
“Business leaders from both countries put forward their views and suggestions in a number of important areas such as digital transformation, fintech, IT, Telecom and supply chain diversification,” he said.
A number of CEOs and senior officials from prominent German companies, such as Siemens and SAP, are part of the business delegation.
Stressing on the potential for growth in economic cooperation, Scholz said there are about 1,800 German companies active in India and Germany was amongst the biggest foreign investors in India, creating tens of thousands of jobs. “Our intention is to put that on a steady footing and expand that cooperation,” he said.
While highlighting the need for cooperation in R&D, Scholz said that development of IT and software was very important in the scheme of things as there were many German companies operating in India. “India has so much talent. We want to benefit from this co-operation here in India, and also with an eye to recruit those talents and attract them to Germany,” he said.
Appreciating the pact on Migration and Mobility between the two countries, Scholz said many skilled workers and qualified persons from India had already seized the opportunity. “It is a model agreement and a front runner for what we can achieve at the global level,” he said.
On the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which has been raging for a year now, Modi said India has been emphasising on resolving the matter through dialogue and diplomacy. He said India was willing to contribute in any peace effort and maintained the call for reforms in the United Nations Security Council.
Scholz will visit Bengaluru on Sunday where he is expected to visit a couple of companies, including German IT Company SAP’s establishment, and hold discussions with start-ups and innovators.
The German Chancellor also called on President Droupadi Murmu.
Marking Scholz’s visit, the two sides announced five outcomes. The two government to government outcomes included an India-Germany Vision to Enhance Cooperation in Innovation and Technology`’ and a Letter of Intent between Department of Science & Technology and Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems for cooperation in green hydrogen and clean energy technologies. The three remaining were business-to-business outcomes which included signing of an MoU between Skill Council of Green Jobs and Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft and announcement on organisation of the Asia Pacific Conference (APK) in India in 2024.