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Tuesday, Dec 10, 2019

Germany, India sign wide-ranging agreements to deepen bilateral ties

Bilateral trade between the two countries rose to $24.06 billion (18.5 billion pounds) in the 2018/19 fiscal year ending in March from $22 billion the previous year, while German companies have invested nearly $12 billion in India since 2000.

india Updated: Nov 02, 2019 02:03 IST
Reuters
Reuters
New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Lok Kalyan Marg in New Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Lok Kalyan Marg in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)
         

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed wide-ranging agreements in New Delhi on Friday to deepen strategic cooperation and exchanged notes on ways to boost bilateral trade.

Merkel, accompanied by several cabinet colleagues and a business delegation, is in India on a three-day visit that began on Thursday.

“We’re encouraging our private sectors to give an impetus to our growing bilateral trade and Chancellor Merkel and I will meet some of the top business and industry leaders,” Modi told a joint press conference with the German leader.

Bilateral trade between the two countries rose to $24.06 billion (18.5 billion pounds) in the 2018/19 fiscal year ending in March from $22 billion the previous year, while German companies have invested nearly $12 billion in India since 2000.

Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe and more than 1,700 German companies are operating in India.

The agreements struck on strategic cooperation, included agriculture, cyber security and artificial intelligence. Modi said the two countries would also bolster ties to combat “terrorism and extremism”.

Germany and India also agreed to join hands in the area of education. “As many as 20,000 Indian nationals are studying in Germany and we would like to see more,” Merkel said.

Although Merkel and Modi didn’t mention anything about restarting talks on finalising a free trade agreement between India and the European Union, sources earlier said the two leaders could take up the trade deal.

Eric Schweitzer, president of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), earlier said India had enormous potential but there has been uncertainty among companies after an investment protection agreement between the two countries ended in 2016.

“Small and medium-sized German companies stand in a labyrinth of regulations and shy away from larger investment. Negotiations should restart and Merkel’s visit could help,” Schweitzer said.

VDA, Germany’s car industry association that counts automakers like Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW and Audi as members, also wanted India to restart the FTA talks. Daimler’s Mercedes-Bez, BMW and Audi dominate India’s luxury car market.

PM Modi and Merkel held a ‘restricted meeting’ in the presence of select ministers and officials from both the sides in the evening.National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, external affairs minister S Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhle attended the meeting at the PM’s official residence.