With Germany reiterating the swift conclusion of an India-EU free trade agreement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called on German companies to invest in India and said that India would welcome German companies with “open arms”.
During the inaugural address at the Indo-German Business Summit in Berlin, Modi highlighted the huge potential that remains untapped in the economic partnership.
“There are 600 Indo-German joint ventures operating in India, employing 200,000 people. But there is huge potential as Indo-German economic cooperation is below its full potential and to enhance this, we in India are waiting with open arms because we value German partnership a lot,” Modi said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other business leaders spoke about the deadlock over FTA between India and the European Union (EU) and urged PM Modi for a speedy conclusion to the deal.
“There are growing protectionist trends around the world but Germany believes the value chains are so deeply interconnected that we will continue to create fair trading conditions. Within this context, it is important that the FTA makes progress,” Merkel said. “Germany will continue to push Brussels to resolve negotiations more speedily and we are committed to implement and put into practise such an agreement. The negotiations have been tough because every country must safeguard its own interests and Germany will ensure that India’s concerns are also put on the table,” she added.
Dr Hubert Lienhard, president and CEO of German industry body the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA), also urged Modi on resolving the agreement to enable investments.
“Tension is not good for investment. It is important we join forces in pushing to reopen negotiations, to ensure stable trade relations for the future,” said Dr Hubert Lienhard, president and CEO of German industry body the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA).
Meanwhile, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed that a meeting in July will between India and EU negotiators will take forward discussions on FTA. While the details of the said meeting have not been finalised yet, MEA reportedly said that a speedy resolution of an agreement would be reached keeping in mind the expiry of the Indo-German bilateral trade treaty in March this year.
“We are committed and have been engaging on this issue and hope an agreement can be reached as fast as possible,” an MEA spokesperson was quoted as saying to reporters at a briefing following the Fourth Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) between Modi and Merkel.
The spokesperson said that both India and Germany were committed to creating a “healthy ecosystem” for investments from Germany. He added that India refers to the deal as a Broad-based trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).
“They [Modi and Merkel] also reaffirmed their strong commitment to the EU-India Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement and their commitment to bring about a resumption of the negotiations at the earliest possible date. This would, inter alia, allow to establish provisions for the mutual protection of new foreign investments,” a Joint Statement issued by Modi and Merkel after the IGC said.
At the summit, Modi highlighted FDI regime in India and spoke about the “growing ease of doing business”. Speaking about the GST, and calling it the “most historic reform” in India ever, Modi added that reforms were spreading fast to all states.
After meeting German President Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier at his residence, PM Modi will leave for Spain later on Tuesday.