New Delhi: India wants Germany to facilitate a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) that has stalled in the past two years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday.

“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," Modi said during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after a meeting in Berlin at the end of a three-day visit.

“Development of India as a manufacturing hub and expansion of infrastructure of India would also be beneficial for trade. Our imports would also grow. And, it is natural that German companies would benefit a lot from it," Modi said.

Launched in June 2007, negotiations for the proposed bilateral trade and investment agreement between India and the 28-member European bloc have been stalled since 2013.

India and the EU are yet to iron out issues related to tariffs and movement of professionals. Besides demanding significant duty cuts in automobiles, the EU wants tax reduction in wines, spirits and dairy products, and also wants India to implement a stricter intellectual property rights regime.

India wants liberalized visa norms for its professionals and greater market access in services and pharmaceuticals. The two-way commerce stood at $101.5 billion in 2013-14, but it had come down to $57.25 billion in April-October last year.

Germany and India on Tuesday also identified 10 areas to intensify cooperation that would lend a new momentum to their strategic partnership. According to a joint statement, manufacturing, skill development, urban development, environment and the cleaning of rivers are among the areas the two governments have picked out for proactive action to advance collaboration.

In manufacturing, the two countries will capitalize on the momentum generated by India’s participation in the Hannover industrial fair to foster stronger ties between business and industry to support the “Make in India" initiative, the statement said.

On skill development, the two countries will look at expanding India-German cooperation “through new initiatives, including a roadmap for enhancing employability of trainees and apprentices by strengthening industry involvement", it said.

In urban development and the creation of smart cities, the two countries were aiming to “strengthen bilateral cooperation through the establishment of a working group on urban development". Affordable housing and setting up peer-to-peer networks of municipalities for direct collaboration will also be looked at.

Railways was another area where India was hoping to benefit from German expertise, with the government seeking “support for the modernization of railway infrastructure, including the setting up of semi high-speed and high-speed railways and training and skill development of personnel in the rail sector starting with signalling and telecommunications and a high-speed rail system".

With Germany rejuvenating the Rhine river, declared dead in the 1980s, India was keen to seek German expertise on rejuvenation strategies, capacity support for urban sanitation, setting up of standards, approaches to industrial pollution and innovative financial models for cleaning the river Ganges.

German know-how was also being sought in renewable energy. With Modi stating that India’s proposed objective was the generation of 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022, India was seeking German technical and financial support for developing comprehensive solar rooftop and green energy corridor projects.

Both countries also announced their intention to promote closer research collaboration in science, technology and innovation, the joint statement added.

Modi gifted the German Chancellor reproductions of manuscripts and papers by C.V. Raman, who received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1930 for his work on scattering of light.

Modi had plans to visit Brussels, where many EU institutions are based, during his current trip to Europe. But delay in confirmation of the dates by EU officials caused the Indian government to drop the plans. The delay in confirming the dates has been attributed to EU unhappiness over India proceeding slowly in the case of two Italian marines detained in India over the alleged killing of two Indian fishermen in 2012.

According to EU officials, who declined to be named, the bloc was hoping to take advantage of Modi’s business-friendly approach to ensure the bilateral trade talks would get the political push that it required.

Nikita Mehta contributed to this story.

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