India, Germany to deepen ties

India, Germany to deepen ties

New Delhi: India will aim to deepen its economic and political partnership with Germany, its largest trading partner in Europe, during a visit by Germany’s foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, officials said.

Asia’s fastest growing economy is looking to tap German technology and manpower training expertise in a bid to achieve double digit economic growth, T.P Seetharam, joint secretary Europe West told reporters.

“Nano and green technology, sustainable development, science and technology" are key areas that India is looking for German cooperation, he said.

Westerwelle’s schedule in New Delhi includes meetings with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna and commerce minister Anand Sharma.

Foreign ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said bilateral trade in 2009-10 stood at €13 billion despite global recession and it had grown by 26% over the previous year in the first five months of 2010. “We are well on the way to achieve the target of €20 billion of bilateral trade by 2012," he said.

Biotechnology, IT, renewable energy, infrastructure and enterainment were areas of mutual cooperation where both sides were keen to strengthen ties, he said.

Six billion dollars worth of investements were understood to be in the pipeline, Prakash said, noting that Germany was India’s eighth largest foreign investor.

German firms with a presence in India include auto majors BMW, Daimler Benz, and Volkswagen -- all of which have manufacturing or assembling facilities in India, he said. Indian companies too were making forays into Germany with firms like Biocon, Mahindras and Infosys acquiring German companies or establishing subsidiaries there, he said.

Seetharam noted that defence was a major area of interest for both sides. He said there was scope for more cooperation as India “is interested in technology transfer" and not buying military hardware. India had acquired four HDW submarines from Germany in the 1980s in a deal was mired in controversy over the alleged payment of kickbacks.

On the political front, both sides had declared their strategic partnership in 2001, Prakash said. Bilateral cooperation focussed on areas like counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing.

India and Germany are both part of groupings like the G-20 -- a gathering of industralised and rapidly ermerging economies like India -- and the G-4 which brings together Brazil and Japan besides India and Germany aimed at piling pressure on the veto-wielding permanment five members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to enlarge their number. Prakash pointed out that both countries had got elected as non-permanent members of the UNSC this week. “Hopefully we become permanent members in the future," Seetharam added.