Manmohan Singh arrives in Germany; to seek greater business ties
Berlin: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Berlin Wednesday on a three-day visit to promote India as a lucrative business destination as it continues to take steps to boost domestic investments, attract foreign investors and spur the economy back to its long term growth potential of 8 percent.
Terming Germany as a "key partner" for India in areas like infrastructure, manufacturing, science, technology and clean and renewable energy, he said, "We expect to sign a number of agreements and Memorandums of Understanding in these areas".
Germany is India's largest economic partner in Europe and one of the key global partners for trade, investment and technology.
Indo-German bilateral trade had registered an increase of 18.4 percent and reached Euros 18.37 billion in 2011.
However, due to global economic slowdown, bilateral trade saw a dip of 5.5 percent last year.
"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 percent," Singh said.
During his discussions, Singh will clarify to the German leader the large number of steps and the reform process taken up by his government to improve the investment climate and make it a lucrative destination for investors.
According to officials, "Germany is the most significant actor within the Eurozone. First, in understanding where the Eurozone is and where it is going. Secondly, in terms of investments".
Describing Germany as a "major potential investor", they said India did a special presentation to the Germans on the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial corridor which lasted for three days.
"And we have got a feedback that they would be interested in the investment opportunities," they added.
Another important issue to be discussed between Singh, who is here to co-chair the 2nd round of Inter-Governmental Consultations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, will be India-European FTA.
Ahead of his departure, Singh said, "I will seek Chancellor Merkel's support for an early conclusion of a balanced India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement. I will also propose that Europe keep its doors open to Indian investors and professionals".
India has already made it clear it expects a "strong political thrust" from Germany, a key member of 27-nation European block, for the inking of the Bilateral Investment and Trade Agreement (BITA).
Noting that Germany plays a key role in the global economy and, in particular, in stability and growth in the Euro Zone, which has an important bearing on the Indian economy, Singh said at a time of persisting global economic weakness and uncertainty, he looks forward to discussing these issues with Chancellor Merkel.
"We will also discuss our shared interests in United Nations Security Council reforms and a broad range of global developments, including with respect to Afghanistan, West Asia and the Asia Pacific region," he said.
The two sides will also discuss security, counter-terrorism and regional situation especially Afghanistan with officials maintaining that during the course of talks, the respective assessments on the war-torn country will be shared.
Afghanistan is something India has always discussed with Germans, the officials said, adding Germany was lead country on police training and in fact when India decided to do some training programmes for the police, they ended up cooperating in the area.
Singh also said India remains committed to a close, cooperative and mutually beneficial partnership with Germany.
This will be Singh's third bilateral visit to Germany and fifth bilateral summit since my first visit to Germany in 2006.
Singh is accompanied by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah, Human Resource Development Minister M M Pallam Raju and Science and Technology Minister S Jaipal Reddy.
Commerce Minister Anand Sharma reached here earlier in the day from Geneva.
The IGCs, first held in May 2011 in Delhi, provide a useful forum for discussions on the full spectrum of bilateral relationship and have helped advance Indo-German cooperation in a broad range of areas.
German Chancellor Merkel also hosted a banquet for Prime Minister.
Singh would hold delegation level talks here on Thursday during which a number of bilateral, regional and international issues will be discussed.