Saying that “many medium-sized business owners” from Germany face “hurdles” in “find(ing) their way through the bureaucratic labyrinth” in India, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that she discussed this issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In one of her last engagements of her two-day visit, Merkel also pushed for a “fresh attempt” for an EU-India free trade agreement.
Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce on Saturday morning, Merkel said: “I am being accompanied on this trip by a business delegation… many medium-sized business owners who have to learn how to find their way through the bureaucratic labyrinth. This is why at the round table with Prime Minister Modi, we spoke very openly about the hurdles that our companies are facing here in India — and also those that Indian companies have to deal with in Europe. Because we also have a lot of bureaucracy, and we will see if we can ease some of them with the new EU Commission.”
Fast-track focal points that put companies directly in touch with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) are already in place and shall be established at a regional level in the future, she said. Merkel assured that she would also push for easier access for Indian companies to European markets.
“Germany and India are good and reliable trading partners for each other,” she said, as she emphasised the potential for deepening the cooperation. The Chamber of Commerce in India is globally the biggest German chamber for foreign trade that the industry nation operates.
Germany is India’s largest trading partner in the European Union. A free trade agreement has been discussed for years. “We need a fresh attempt,” Merkel said, arguing for a push to negotiations and urging a renewal of the investment protection after an earlier agreement expired in 2016.
Both India and Germany are promoting a non-protectionist multilateral trade system, Merkel said. Asking more Indian specialists to visit Germany, she announced facilitation of visa procedures from March 2020.
Before heading back to Germany, Merkel, who was accompanied by a ministerial delegation and business representatives, visited the site of German automotive-supplier Continental and a solar-driven Metro station in Delhi.
Merkel pledged to invest 1 billion Euros over the next five years on environmentally-friendly urban mobility projects in India.