India, Germany ink no pact, PM Modi for dedicated team to improve trade ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today concluded his maiden official visit to Germany, the second leg of his three-nation tour, with lot of spade work for near future but without signing a single agreement.

The single biggest concrete deliverable from PM Modi’s Germany trip was his decision to set up a dedicated mechanism in the government of India to promote Indo-German trade and investments, a privilege that the Modi government has thus far given only to Japan and the United States.

 India, Germany ink no pact, PM Modi for dedicated team to improve trade ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during the Ceremonial Welcome, in Berlin, Germany on 14 April 2015. Image courtesy PIB

PM Modi himself made a pointed reference to this in his remarks to the media after his talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This is what the PM said: "I have also decided that we will establish a mechanism for German companies to facilitate their investment and business in India.”

However, an unusual part of Modi’s German trip was that not a single agreement was signed during his much-awaited maiden trip to Europe’s number one financial power.

This writer understands that signing of agreements – and several of them – has been kept for October this year when Merkel would be travelling to India on an official visit. This will mark perhaps the first time in the history of Indo-German ties when the two countries would be exchanging bilateral visits at the highest political level in one single calendar year.

Merkel’s India visit will coincide with the third Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) in India in October 2015.

Modi himself articulated his objectives in visiting Germany thus: "My objective of coming to Germany was not only to invite the German industry to India, but to assure them that they would find an open and stable environment, which would be easy to do business in; and that they will have my full support to invest and work in India."

The Modi-Merkel meeting in Berlin today over working lunch largely had an economic agenda and the European Union free trade issue also came up. PM Modi pushed for early resumption and conclusion of India-EU negotiations in this regard. This is what he said on this point: "In this context, I would also like to state that negotiations between India and European Union on a Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement have remained stalled for two years. I have requested Chancellor Merkel that India and European Union should resume the negotiations quickly and conclude a balanced and mutually beneficial agreement at the earliest."

Though the two sides would try to ensure that this tricky and complicated issue is resolved amicably by October when Merkel visits India, it is a long road ahead and it would be nothing less than a miracle if an issue that has been hanging fire for two years would be resolved in the next six months.

The prime minister stressed to his German interlocutors that development of India as a manufacturing hub and expansion of infrastructure of India would also be beneficial for bilateral trade. "Our imports would also grow. And, it is natural that German companies would benefit a lot from it," he pointed out.

Modi gave a sneak peek into one core area where the Indo-German cooperation is set to be intensified further: renewable energy and energy efficiency. Renewable energy is a passion with PM Modi as his government is pushing for adding as much as 175 Giga Watts of renewable energy in the next seven years.

"Germany is a strong partner in the development of clean energy. We would also like your cooperation on manufacturing of equipment for clean and renewable energy in India; and enhance our shared efforts to address the challenge of climate change," he pointed out.

Besides, Modi and Merkel also discussed climate change meet in Paris, United Nations Security Council reforms, cooperation in counter-terror, cyber security and the Iran deal. In fact, Modi took this opportunity to laud the Merkel administration as Germany played a prominent role in the Iran nuclear deal.

Last but not the least, here is a bit of diplomatic trivia. All know that Modi is very fond of describing himself at home as "naseebwala" or a person that brings good luck. He used this theatric even with the Germans today.

In his remarks to the media he said thus: "When I last came to Berlin, Germany was successful in winning the World Cup Final. This time in Berlin, I feel that we will also be successful in taking the strategic partnership between India and Germany to new heights."

He was referring to his transit visit to Germany last year when he was supposed to have a summit meeting with Merkel. However, Merkel was not in Germany on the relevant dates as Germany had qualified for the World Cup Soccer final and she had committed to the German team that she would be personally present in the spectator’s gallery should the German team qualify for the final.

Obviously he was telling the Germans when he visited Germany last the German football team qualified for the World Cup final. Now this time his visit to Germany will bring luck on Indo-German bilateral relations!

Updated Date: Apr 14, 2015 20:41:08 IST