India calls on Germany to help tackle EU barriers

24th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

24 April 2006, HANOVER, GERMANY - India called on Germany Monday to push for the reduction of trade barriers with the European Union in order to underpin its fast-paced economic transformation.

24 April 2006

HANOVER, GERMANY - India called on Germany Monday to push for the reduction of trade barriers with the European Union in order to underpin its fast-paced economic transformation.

Speaking during a visit to Germany by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, India's Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath said his country's role as partner nation at this year's Hanover industrial fair marked the renewal of strong and robust relations with Germany.

But in an address to an Indo-German Business Summit at the Hanover fair, Nath complained about increasing stringency of standards and complex rules and procedures in the EU which he said acted as non- tariff barriers to trade.

As a consequence, Nath called on Germany to join Belgium and Britain in tackling the trade hurdles that were hindering Indian exports to the 25-member EU.

Prime Minister Singh was expected to press this point at talks later Monday in Berlin with Germany's mainly ceremonial president, Horst Koehler, and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Earlier in the day, Singh officially launched India's exhibition at the Hanover fair - the world's biggest showcase of industrial know-how and new technology - with German and Indian industry leaders signing off on a raft of business contracts.

Accompanied by an Indian military band, Singh was joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a tour of some of the 341 Indian companies represented at the five-day annual trade show.

Apart from a 1 billion dollar deal for India's Kingfisher airlines to purchase five Airbus aircraft, business leaders signed contracts for medical research, the sale of buses and closer co-operation between the German and Indian railway companies.

Indeed, the contract between Germany's Deutsche Bahn AG - Germany's state railway giant - and Indian Railways underscores the type of infrastructure development and experience that India is keen to draw from Europe's biggest economy.

In addition to pooling research resources, the contract provides for Deutsche Bahn to help Indian Railways in the modernization of its rolling stock and signalling systems as well as in increasing the speed of its train services.

India is at present in the process of upgrading its rail network as part of wider moves to improve its transport infrastructure with new rail freight links having recently been opened.

Leading Germany and Indian business groups are also planning closer links. Germany is India's largest trading partner in Europe with trade between the two nations growing at almost 20 per cent between 2004 and 2005.

But the influential Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper noted that while "German interest in India was growing, Indian interest in Germany was sinking."

India, the paper said, was far more interested in forging ties with the US, China and southeast Asia.

Opening the Indo-German Business Summit, Heinrich von Pierer, the chairman of the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business and supervisory board chairman of German electronics giant Siemens praised the economic reforms which were spearheaded by Singh during his time as India's Finance Minister.

"The best work is before us," said von Pierer with the Hanover trade fair highlighting the moves by India and Germany to deepen their economic ties as well as the key role played by business issues during Singh's three-day visit to Germany.

Despite talks on a wide range of international issues, both Merkel and Singh have taken every opportunity to stress the considerable potential in the economic relationship between their two countries and the prospects for greater co-operation.

Speaking at the opening of the Indo-German Business Summit, Singh reminded those attending of India's high-octane economic performance in recent years saying his country was aiming at growth rates of between eight and ten per cent in the future.

At the same time, corporate India has been keen to use the Hanover fair and its links with German industry to take advantage of fast- paced globalisation and to forge a greater role in international business affairs.

"Indian firms are becoming globally competitive and we are witnessing the rise of Indian multinationals," said Singh. "Several Indian subsidiaries of prominent German companies have out-performed the German parent companies."

Singh told Sunday's official opening of the trade fair that India was undergoing "an historical transformation" with the nation able to take up over the next ten years investments totally about 150 billion dollars.

With India having rolled out the welcome mat for German companies, Merkel told the summit that it was now up to German companies to take up the offer.


Subject: German news

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