Labour mobility, especially from India to the West, will be among the key issues Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his entourage will discuss with the German leadership over the next two days.
“I will seek Chancellor [Angela] Merkel’s support for an early conclusion of a balanced India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement. I will also propose that Europe keep its doors open to Indian investors and professionals,” Dr. Singh said in a statement on Wednesday morning, before leaving for Germany for his fifth summit with the Chancellor.
Besides favouring greater movement of Indians to the West in exchange for the market access for merchandise, the statement touched on other issues to be discussed during the three-day visit.
Dr. Singh also drew attention to a new format of interaction with Germany in recognition of its being the engine of Europe. Called Inter-Governmental Consultations — first held in May 2011 — they allow discussions on the full spectrum of the relationship.
Untangling red tape
Germany adopts this format for a few countries, but in Asia, India is the third country, after China and Israel, with which it has deployed this system. Under it, several — about half-a-dozen — Cabinet Ministers face each other to untie bureaucratic tangles and then report on their work to their heads of government before they sit down for the summit.
Besides labour mobility, Dr. Singh will seek greater trade and investment ties with Germany and promised more steps to attract foreign investors and spur the economy to an annual growth of 8 per cent. Western Europe and the U.S., in particular, have been pressing India to ease foreign investment norms and limits in several sectors, especially in defence and insurance.
As the undisputed economic behemoth of Europe, Germany played a key role in stability and growth in the Euro Zone, which had a bearing on the Indian economy, Dr. Singh said.
The two leaders will also discuss the United Nations Security Council reforms, besides the situation in Afghanistan, West Asia and the Asia Pacific region.