Interview| Walter J. Lindner Hyderabad

Indo-German ties poised for further growth

German Ambassador to India, Walter J. Lindner delivering the keynote address during German Investor's Summit in Hyderabad on December 06, 2021.   | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

Ahead of his visit, German Ambassador Walter J. Lindner had tweeted it was great coming back to Hyderabad and he looked forward to a packed, exciting schedule on Sunday/Monday.

Indeed, it turned out to be as the diplomat, who is an active musician, enthralled audience with the flute at the 4th International Jazz Festival, helped Telangana government and potential investors from Germany strike synergies and visited University of Hyderabad.

In an interview, before an investor summit on Monday, he said India-Germany ties are poised for further growth ahead. Edited excerpts:

How is India-Germany relations panning out, especially in the backdrop of the pandemic, and which are the areas where greater cooperation is possible?

COVID-19 impacted every nation. These were two years where we really did not have many delegations coming in.

The [German] Chancellor was here in November 2019. It was followed by a visit of our Minister of Economic Cooperation. Thereafter we have been meeting digitally. We have to revitalise the physical presence. The ties have not suffered because of COVID.

On the contrary, they got more intense, particularly with the focus on how to deal with the pandemic and issues around the globe. I think our two governments have found a good way to digitally communicate - be on the same wave length on topics such as Afghanistan, trade, climate [change]. Our relationship is not just focused on economy, it is also about student exchange, culture, agriculture, development policy.

India is the country where we invest most of our development money, euro 1.2 billion.

Do you see scope for more collaboration between medium-sized German firms and the small and medium enterprises in India?

Medium-sized German companies have been here since decades, proved their presence and are here to stay.

They know what they want.

None of them left during COVID. We are ready to restart the process [of matchmaking], if the [Coronavirus] mutation permits. Investor summit such as the one being held here are important as they present a forum for the firms to spell out their expectations if they have to invest.

How important is India for investors in Germany, especially in the backdrop of growing emphasis on diversification of supply chain beyond China?

We have 2,000 companies here and they are mostly in Pune, Bangalore, Gujarat, and a few here.

They have a reason to be here. A case in point is Schott’s facility in Gujarat that makes glass used in vaccine packaging and is one of the largest such production facilities. It is an example of Made in India with German know-how. COVID and inter-connectivity of the globalised world have shown that we have to diversify our supply chain. It is, however, not that we exclude a nation to produce something but diversify, get more sources where to get things.

Where does Telangana figure in the plans of German companies?

When I was here two months ago, I spoke to Minister [K.T.Rama Rao] and he said bring more German companies and make it known that we have good conditions. Hyderabad is not yet on top of the German investors list but it could move up because I was convinced when here last time what the [Telangana] government is offering is pretty attractive. Political stability, ease of doing business, infrastructure, public transport, efficient administration, skilled manpower are something every company looks for.

A new regime is set to assume office in Germany, in what way will the change impact the bilateral ties?

The new regime is led by the Social Democratic Party which has been part of the coalition. The new chancellor is very experienced person, was Mayor in Hamburg, Minister and also focused, not so different from [the outgoing] Chancellor Angela Merkel in the way of acting and thinking . Germany has had good relationship with the previous government [in India], we have good relationship with current government.

When can we expect the next ministerial level discussion taking place?

India is a strategic [partner] and we have government to government meetings every second year. The last one was when Chancellor Merkel was here in November 2019. Due to COVID we could not have any negotiations, now we will have another meeting hopefully in the first half of 2022. This time the Indian Ministers will be visiting Germany.

Which are the vaccines being used in Germany?

BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna have been used. Covishield has been approved. While WHO has approved Covaxin, we have to wait until the EU decision. We are very positive about Covaxin.


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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 11:19:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/indo-german-ties-poised-for-further-growth/article37875160.ece

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