Modi, Merkel to push trade talks, lay ground for India-EU summit

  • Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 05, 2015 01:32 IST
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is received at the Delhi airport by minister of state for finance Jayant Sinha on Sunday. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to take up with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday the need to remove “avoidable irritants” for early conclusion of a free trade pact as the European Union is keen on hosting the PM next month.

Merkel who arrived in Delhi on Sunday night will meet the Prime Minister on Monday and discuss cooperation in the fields of technology, skill development, river cleaning, clean energy, waste management and railways, and the expansion of the United Nations security council for which both nations have staked their claims.

Modi also tweeted a welcome message for Merkel on Sunday night.

Modi told French President Fracois Hollande India was keen on moving ahead with the free trade agreement, termed the Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA), when the two leaders met in New York on September 28. The Prime Minister urged European Union nations to help remove irritants such as the ban on import of 700 generic drugs on charges of manipulation in clinical trials, a decision India finds arbitrary.

The same pitch is to be made before Merkel who is expected to urge the Indian side to conclude the BTIA talks that started in 2007. But a host of issues remain to be resolved.

Though there are indications India could agree to lower tariffs for importing wines, there are concerns over addressing intellectual property issues and Indian professionals not getting access to European labour markets.

EU countries have also been pushing India for clarity on domestic investment and procurement laws.

“India is keen on moving ahead with the BTIA talks, but for that certain irritants, some of them very avoidable like the ban on drugs, need to be addressed,” an official said. The EU has invited Modi for a summit meeting in November when the PM visits Turkey to attend a G20 event.

Merkel on her India visit is accompanied by ministers of economic affairs and energy, defence, foreign affairs, food and agriculture, education and economic cooperation and development for inter-governmental consultations with the Indian side.

Modi and Merkel will visit Bengaluru on Tuesday where both will participate in a business event hosted by Nasscom on “Industry 4.0” and also visit innovation and skilling centres of German company Bosch.

India and Germany have been strategic partners since 2001. Germany is India’s largest trade partner in the EU and the seventh largest foreign investor in the country.

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