Berlin: Indian Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh, accompanied by a high-level delegation
that includes five cabinet ministers, arrived here Wednesday on a
three-day official visit during which bilateral trade and
investment and cooperation in education, science and technology,
and renewable energy would figure high on the agenda at the
inter-governmental talks that kick off Thursday.
"I intend to seek greater trade and investment ties with Germany
as we continue to take steps to boost domestic investments,
attract foreign investors and spur the economy back to its long
term growth potential of 8 percent," said the prime minister.
"Germany is also a key partner for us in areas like
infrastructure, manufacturing, science and technology, higher
education, vocational training and clean and renewable energy. We
expect to sign a number of agreements and Memorandums of
Understanding in these areas," he said in a statement just before
leaving New Delhi.
India was one of the first countries to recognize the Federal
Republic of Germany and had strongly supported German
Reunification in 1990. Both countries agree on several policy
areas of international diplomacy.
The two nations are also seeking a permanent seat in the United
Nations Security Council and cooperating with each other in the
The prime minister will co-chair the second round of
inter-governmental consultations with Chancellor Angela Merkel and
witness the signing of a series of accords aimed at driving
bilateral cooperation in the fileds of education, science and
technology, and renewable energy.
Under the agreements to be inked, Germany will provide India a
soft loan of 1 billion euros (Rs 71 billion) for strengthening the
transmission system of renewable energy in several states.
The two countries will also put together seven million euros in
the next four years towards joint research in education under
The two sides will try to reach agreement on a India-EU free trade
agreement, talks on which going on since 2007.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said his country
supported an India-EU FTA, which would remove most tariff and
non-tariff barriers. "We believe that a free trade agreement
between the EU and India would point the way toward more growth
and prosperity" in both countries, Westerwelle said as he met
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid ahead of dinner talks
between Manmohan Singh and Angela Merkel.
In the first round of consultations in May 2011, the two sides had
agreed to increase their bilateral trade from 15 billion to 20
billion euros by the end of 2012. At the end of 2011, the volume
had crossed 18 billion euros.
Germany is now India's seventh most important exporter. Demand for
German machines, which make up 30 percent of all such deliveries,
technology have remained high. In return, India supplies Germany
with textiles, leather, food and increasingly with chemical goods,
metal products and also with electrotechnology.
The prime minister is accompanied by External Affairs Minister
Salman Khurshid, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma,
Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah, Human Resource
Development Minister M.M. Pallam Raju, and Science and Technology
Minister S. Jaipal Reddy.
On his arrival at the Tegel Military Airport, the prime minister
was given a red carpet welcome. The chief of protocol in the
German foreign ministry, Jorgen Christian Mertens, received him,
his wife Gursharan Kaur, and the accompanying delegation at the
This is Manmohan Singh's second visit to Germany in three years.
He last visited Germany in December 2010.
(Gyanendra Kumar Keshri can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)