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Angela Merkel's visit strengthens 15-year Indo-German engagement

The decision to cooperate in the area of food safety and standards becomes interesting in the backdrop of the recent controversy regarding the sale of European food major Nestle's instant noodles 'Maggi' in India.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Senior associate editor Joe C Mathew
If German Chancellor Angela Merkel's India visit, which ends today (October 6), has seen assurances of cooperation in a wide range of areas, its success should go to the sustained efforts of both Germany and India to maintain the high level of bilateral engagement over the past 15 years.

As the joint statement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chancellor Merkel during the third India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultation (IGC) here on 5 October indicates, the 18 agreements and memorandum of understanding signed are mostly in areas that have been in focus for a long time now. Security, enhanced trade and investment, partnerships in manufacturing, skilling, clean energy, infrastructure, innovation and education were high on the agenda during the previous meetings too.

One of the most tangible outcomes of the visit has been Merkel's assurance to provide more than $2.25 billion as assistance to develop clean energy corridor and solar projects. India, which is planning to project an ambitious carbon emission reduction plan in the forthcoming Global Climate Change meet at Paris, can only hope to achieve its target through more such assistance.

The decision to cooperate in the area of food safety and standards becomes interesting in the backdrop of the recent controversy regarding the sale of European food major Nestle's instant noodles 'Maggi' in India.

The resolve to cooperate in sectors such as skill building, education, defence and manufacturing also go well with the current priorities of the Modi government.

India and Germany have a 'strategic partnership' since 2001, which has been further strengthened with two rounds of Intergovernmental Consultations (IGC) in New Delhi in May 2011, as well as in Berlin in April 2013. The third IGC is what has taken place now. The two countries have several institutionalized arrangements to discuss bilateral and global issues of interest viz. Strategic Dialogue, Foreign Office Consultations, Joint Commission on Industrial and Economic Cooperation, High Technology Partnership Group, High Defence Committee, Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, Indo-German Energy Forum, Indo-German Environment Forum, Indo-German Consultative Group, etc. Germany and India cooperate closely on the issue of UN Security Council expansion within the framework of G-4. Both sides have regular consultation on foreign policy issues such as East Asia, Central Asia, UN issues, Disarmament & Non-proliferation, etc.

Germany is the eighth largest foreign direct investor in India since 2000. German FDI in India during the period 1991-February 2015, was valued at $8.25 billion. German FDI in India in 2014 was to the tune of $1.15 billion. There are more than 1,600 Indo-German collaborations and over 600 Indo-German joint ventures in operation. Indian investments in Germany have also shown a remarkable increase in the last few years and have invested over $6 billion in Germany, mainly through M&As.

The major items for export from India to Germany are garments and textile products, chemical products, leather & leather goods, iron, steel and metal goods, electronic components, electrical components, pharmaceutical products, and auto components. The key German exports to India include electrical generation equipment, auto equipment, complete fabrication plants, bearings, gear equipment, measurement and control equipment, primary chemical products, synthetic material, machine tools, aircrafts and iron and steel sheets, etc.

Key agreements that were signed:

 

  • Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy of the Republic of India on Indo-German Development Cooperation Regarding the Indo-German Solar Energy Partnership.
  • Joint Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship of the Republic of India, on one Hand, and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of the Republic of Germany, on the other Hand, on Cooperation in the Field of Skill Development and Vocational Education and Training.
  • Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Republic of India and the Federal Ministry of the Interior of the Federal Republic of Germany on Security Cooperation.
  • Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Civil Aviation of the Republic of India and the Federal Ministry of the Interior of the Federal Republic of Germany on Aviation Security.
  • Joint Declaration of Intent between the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Republic of India and the Federal Ministry of the Interior of the Federal Republic of Germany on Cooperation in the Field of Disaster Management.
  • Joint Declaration between the Ministry of Science and Technology (Government of the Republic of India) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Government of the Federal Republic of Germany) on the extension of the tenure of the Indo-German Science and Technology Centre (IGSTC)
  • Memorandum of Understanding between University Grants Commission (UGC), India and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Germany on Indo-German Partnerships in Higher Education (IGP).
  • Joint Declaration of Intent between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, (MoA&FW), Government of India, and the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) of the Federal Republic of Germany on Plant Protection Products.
  • Joint Declaration of Intent on the further Development of the Cooperation in the Field of Railways between the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Ministry of Railways of the Republic of India.
  • Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises, Government of India, and Fraunhofer Society, Germany on cooperation in the field of manufacturing.
  • Joint Announcement on setting up a Fast-Track system for German companies in India.
  • Joint Declaration between the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Government of the Republic of India on the continuation of the cooperation in the field of advanced training of corporate executives and junior executives from India.
  • Joint Declaration of Intent between the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Republic of India and the Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany regarding the Promotion of German as a Foreign Language in India and the Promotion of Modern Indian Languages in Germany.
  • Joint Statement of Intent on Cooperation in Food Safety between the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
  • Joint Statement of Intent between the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) on Cooperation in Food Safety.
  • Memorandum of Understanding between the German Agribusiness Alliance and Agriculture Skill Council of India (ASCI) on Cooperation in Agricultural Studies.
  • Letter of Intent between the Department of Science and Technology, Government of the Republic of India (DST), the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings (Council), and the Foundation Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings (Foundation) on supporting participation of Indian young scientists in Natural Sciences for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.