After sending Finance Minister P Chidambaram to foreign shores to woo investors to revive the fading India growth story,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself is now set to get into the act,making a strong pitch for India as an investment destination during his three-day visit to Germany that kicked off on Wednesday.
Accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising five ministers,Singh and wife Gursharan Kaur arrived in Berlin to a red carpet welcome at the Tegel Military Airport. It was 6 degree Celsius when the PM landed but there was unmistakable warmth in relations between the two countries with Singh staving off the jetlag to head for a private dinner hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Before flying out,Singh said,Germany is our largest economic partner in Europe and one of our key global partners for trade,investment and technology. 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 per cent.
To project India as an attractive investment destination at a time when the Eurozone is in a crisis,Singh is set to apprise the hosts of the renewed thrust on economic reforms in India and about the recently set up Cabinet Committee on Investment. Germany plays a key role in the global economy and,in particular,in stability and growth in the Eurozone,which has an important bearing on the Indian economy. At a time of persisting global economic weakness and uncertainty,I look forward to discussing these issues with Chancellor Merkel, he said.
On the agenda is also signing of a joint statement of intent of German support worth 1 billion Euros for green energy corridors in India. New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah,who is accompaning the PM,said it would go a long way in ensuring 27,000 MW of wind and solar energy currently produced,and 30,000 MW more proposed to be produced in the next five years,is transmitted through a compatible system benefiting at least seven states. India is also expecting German investment and technology in the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.
With elections in Germany scheduled for September and a sense of uncertainty about the timing of polls in India,there is urgency to conclude long-pending negotiations. There is a renewed thrust on India-EU free trade agreement,called Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement,though some major irritants remain unresolved.
For instance,while EU wants India to reduce customs duty on cars,wines and spirits,India expects the EU to give it data secure nation status.
We see the relationship as a major link between Europe and us. The technocrats have been working for long. I think it is time for a strong political push and I can see willingness on both sides, said Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid who has been holding talks with his German counterpart over BTIA.