German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed wide-ranging agreements in New Delhi on Friday to deepen strategic cooperation and exchanged notes on ways to boost bilateral trade.
Merkel, accompanied by several cabinet colleagues and a business delegation, is in India on a three-day visit that began on Thursday. “We’re encouraging our private sectors to give an impetus to our growing bilateral trade and Chancellor Merkel and I will meet some of the top business and industry leaders," Modi told a joint news conference with the German leader.
Bilateral trade between the two countries rose to $24.06 billion in 2018-19 from $22 billion the previous year, while German companies have invested nearly $12 billion in India since 2000.
The agreements struck on strategic cooperation, included agriculture, cyber security and artificial intelligence. Modi said the two countries would also bolster ties to combat “terrorism and extremism". Germany and India also agreed to join hands in the area of education.
“As many as 20,000 Indian nationals are studying in Germany and we would like to see more," Merkel said.
Although Merkel and Modi didn’t mention anything about restarting talks on finalizing a free trade agreement between India and the EU, people familiar with the matter earlier said the two leaders could take up the trade deal. Meanwhile, talking to reporters, Merkel said the conditions in which the people of Kashmir are living are unsustainable and must be improved.
She said she would raise the matter with Narendra Modi later on Friday evening, adding that while she was aware of India’s position on Kashmir, she wanted to hear Modi’s plans for restoring calm to the region.
Eric Schweitzer, president of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, earlier said India had enormous potential but there has been uncertainty among companies after an investment protection agreement between the two countries ended in 2016.