Updated: October 6, 2015 9:12:43 am
In a bid to attract German investment, India decided Monday to set up a “fast-track clearance mechanism” as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel held bilateral talks in the Capital. The only other such country-specific mechanism is for Japan, which was announced last year.
Merkel, who welcomed Modi’s commitment to improve ease of doing business in India, said, “I was very glad we were able to sign the fast-track agreement today so that the speed with which you provide licences to companies to set up business is increased.” The fast-track system for German companies will be taken care of by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), and will become operational by March 2016.
The two leaders also decided that while German will be taught in Kendriya Vidyalayas as an additional foreign language, modern Indian languages will be taught in Germany — putting an end to the controversy over German as a third language, which had erupted last year.
The two leaders also stressed on the need to revive negotiations for the long-pending India-EU Free Trade pact, with Modi asking Merkel to use her influence in the grouping to remove impediments so that talks could resume.
“We see Germany as a natural partner in achieving our vision of India’s economic transformation. German strengths and India’s priorities are aligned… our focus tends to be on economic ties. But, I believe that in a world of seamless challenges and opportunities, India and Germany can also be strong partners in advancing a more human, peaceful, just and sustainable future for the world,” Modi said, with Merkel by his side.
A total of 18 agreements were signed, which covered a wide range of topics — from skill development to education, science and technology to aviation.
Co-chairing the third summit-level Inter-Governmental Consultations, Modi and Merkel, in talks that lasted three hours, resolved to expand ties in defence, security, intelligence, railways, trade, investment and clean energy.
Sharing their concerns about the growing threat and global reach of terrorism and extremism, Modi and Merkel agreed to build closer collaboration to counter such challenges. A separate MoU on security cooperation was signed, which proposes to intensify cooperation in countering terrorism.
Issues relating to the threat of terrorism in India’s neighbourhood, particularly on its Western border, figured in the talks, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told reporters, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.
In his statement, Modi noted that Indo-German partnership will grow in areas like “defence manufacturing, trade in advanced technology, intelligence, and countering terrorism and radicalism. These are important security dimensions of our expanding relationship”.
In her comments, Merkel expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the talks and complimented Modi for the “speed” in which he is pushing various initiatives.
A joint statement said Germany welcomed India’s intensified engagement with various export control regimes, like the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement.
Merkel and Modi also discussed a number of global and regional issues, including climate change, UN reform and the situation in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Ukraine.
The joint statement said the two leaders also underlined the importance of freedom of navigation in international waters and the right of passage and other maritime rights in accordance with international law, in an apparent reference to growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea.
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