Insights into Editorial: Engaging Germany
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to India highlights expanding European interest in partnering Delhi as well as emerging concerns about India’s economic and political trajectory.
Germany, as the natural leader of Europe, is struggling to cope with deepening uncertainties economic, political and security in its own neighbourhood and the world.
Germany is under pressure to take larger responsibilities for regional stability and contribute more to the maintenance of the global order.
Germany Boosting ties with India:
Reflecting the new interest, the German Parliament passed a resolution on boosting ties with India days before Merkel arrived in Delhi.
Maas also called India a pillar of Asian stability and a country that shares European political values.
As Germany seeks to bring India into its larger geopolitical calculus, India too is ending its prolonged indifference to Europe as a strategic actor.
The recent elevation of India’s engagement with France is now being followed by a fresh look at strengthening ties with Germany.
Engaging Germany is not just about bilateral relations with Berlin. It is about collaboration with the Germany-led European Union as a whole.
The expansive range of agreements signed during Merkel’s visit include trade and investment, mitigating climate change, the digital revolution, urban development, agriculture and human resource development.
Unlike in the past, defence and security have acquired a prominent place in Indo-German discussions.
India had recently celebrated remarkable improvements in the ease of doing business, indicating its willingness to remove bureaucratic hurdles.
However, technical regulations in trade like testing requirement are real burden for German Companies.
Strategic Partnership for Sustainable Growth and a Reliable International Order:
- Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Modi reiterated that the Indo-German Strategic Partnership is based on the common values and principles of democracy, free and fair trade, and rules-based international order, as well as on mutual trust and respect.
- Key issues in the discussions included jointly driving the digital transformation through innovation and frontier technologies, especially artificial intelligence, making economic growth sustainable by cooperating on climate change, creating space for people to people contacts through legal mobility for skilled labour, and contributing to a reliable international order by strengthening and updating multilateral institutions.
- Recognising that AI will fundamentally impact the way the world lives and works in the coming years both sides intend to work together to foster, encourage and develop cooperation on AI technologies and thereby promote innovation and sustainable development.
- Both sides reaffirmed the importance of building Digital Partnership to intensify regular interaction and coordination towards collaboration on the next generation technologies.
- India and Germany aspire to build a collaborative partnership by leveraging advantages on each side recognising increasing integration of hardware and software in developing IoT and AI solutions for societal benefits.
International Cooperation for Multi-lateral Research:
- Recognizing that international cooperation has long been a key feature of cutting-edge research projects, Germany and India agreed on working together closely to conduct joint bilateral and/or multilateral research and development activities on the development and use of AI.
- This also includes cooperation between German and Indian companies which are part of the same global value chains.
- Both sides stressed the unique opportunity to enhance Indo-German collaboration in the area of AI for health.
- AI collaborations in Agriculture such as precision farming with the aim to increase efficiency and to save resources as well as reduction of food losses and waste.
- Germany and India agree to share research on the complexities arising out of adoption of AI in the workplace and its impact on the economy and society through a joint workshop.
- They welcomed the first stakeholder meeting in Berlin in September 2019 and agreed on facilitating another such meeting in India.
Expanding frontiers of Trade and Investment:
- The leaders underlined their determination to enhance bilateral trade and investment.
- Both sides confirmed the importance of a balanced Free Trade Agreement between India and the EU and agreed to deepen efforts to restart negotiations between the EU and India on the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement.
- Both sides reiterated their strong support for a rules-based international trading system with the WTO at its centre.
- Against this backdrop all efforts should be made to restore the full functioning of the WTO dispute settlement system and reform the WTO without undermining its fundamental principles such as Special and Differential Treatment, consensus-based decision making and development objectives.
- To this end both Parties will strive to make the next WTO Ministerial Conference in Nursultan, Kazakhstan a success.
- Amidst the current unpredictability of the US security policies, President Donald Trump’s attack on the world trading system, the rapid economic expansion of China into Europe, the increasing assertiveness of the Sino-Russian political axis, Berlin is looking to diversify its global partnerships beyond the Euro-Atlantic space.
- India is inevitably at the top of its list of potential strategic partners.
Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe. Indian exports to Germany focus on the textile sector, followed by chemical products, electrical engineering products, metal and leather goods and foodstuffs.
Germany is India’s second most important research partner worldwide, after the United States. This is reflected in the large number of joint Indo-German scientific publications.
There are more than 1000 Indian postgraduate students in Germany and India constitute the second largest group of foreign PhD students after the Chinese.
In multipolar world order, convergence of India and Germany will be a win-win situation for both the countries due to uncertainties created by US policies and increasing assertiveness of Sino-Russian political axis.
Post Brexit, Germany will become a more important player in European Union.
Therefore, engaging Germany is not just about India’s bilateral relations with it. It is about collaborating with the Germany led EU as a whole.