Thursday, April 11, 2013

India, Germany sign six deals to boost ties

Agencies/Berlin
India and Germany yesterday signed six agreements to enhance co-operation in the areas of green energy, education, agriculture and science and technology.
The agreements were signed in the presence of visiting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and German Chancellor Angela Merkel after the second inter-governmental meeting between the two countries. 
The prime minister and the chancellor co-chaired the meeting and discussed the areas of co-operation. 
Addressing a joint press conference after the meeting, Singh said the high-level bilateral engagement between the two countries in the recent years had substantially and tangibly raised the quality of co-operation across a broad range of areas. 
“We look forward to expanding defence co-operation anchored in technology transfer, co-development and co-production in India,” he said. 
India’s Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah and German parliamentary state secretary Gudrun Kopp signed an agreement for setting up a “green energy corridor.” 
Two agreements were signed to enhance co-operation in education and research. 
Joint declarations of intents were signed for co-operation in agriculture, food security and civil security research. 
“High technology commerce would benefit from further easing of German export controls to India. The agreement today on scientific collaboration on technologies for civilian security adds a new dimension to our growing security co-operation,” Singh said. 
Markel said the inter-governmental talks had helped strengthen economic and strategic ties. 
“The scale and spectrum of agreements signed after the inter-governmental co-operation was a testimony of deep and close co-operation between the two countries,” she said. 
Singh and Merkel, who are said to have a good personal rapport, launched the so-called Indo-German intergovernmental consultations, where cabinet ministers from both nations meet every two years, in New Delhi in May 2011. 
Germany only has such ties with some European neighbours, China and Israel. 
Singh, before leaving for Berlin, said that New Delhi intends “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%.” 
Germany is “a key partner for us in areas like infrastructure, manufacturing, science and technology, higher education, vocational training and clean and renewable energy,” he added in a statement. 
Singh, who is travelling with a large business delegation, was received with pomp, military honours and a dinner by Merkel on Wednesday. 
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle praised India, with its 1.2bn people, as “a power centre on the rise” and an “economic success story that has shifted the weight in the world.” 
“We have many partners in the world, but India is a democracy, the biggest democracy in the world,” he said, praising their “shared values.” 
Westerwelle also voiced support for an EU-Indian free trade and investment pact that has been in the works since 2007 but which has been held up by disagreements on access to India’s automotive, alcoholic beverage and insurance sectors, and Indian concern about strict EU visa rules. 
Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said at the meeting that the trade talks should now move from the level of technocrats to statesmen. 
He thanked Germany for its support on pushing forward the negotiations, which he said “will be concluded hopefully soon,” calling the EU’s biggest economy a “constant companion, friend, strategic partner.” 
Germany is India’s biggest economic partner in Europe, and two-way trade reached 18.3bn euros ($24bn) in 2011. 
Singh received a full red-carpet welcome to Merkel’s office before the two leaders began talks. 
Grey-coated German armed forces bandsmen played both nations’ anthems during the ceremony on the forecourt of the chancellor’s office. Merkel had met briefly with Singh the previous evening.