Economic ties high on Modi’s Europe agenda

It will be a naav pe charcha with President Hollande, says Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar.

April 08, 2015 05:39 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:27 pm IST - New Delhi

Economic ties are at the top of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda as he begins a 9-day 3-nation tour of France, Germany and Canada today. While in France, the Prime Ministerwill focus on technology development and tourism cooperation, in Germany, he will pitch the government’s “Make in India” theme for manufacturing, and in Canada, he will focus on investment potential and engage with the Indian diaspora, that numbers more than 1.2 million . “If I were to pick a common theme, then it is that all three G-7 nations are industrialised democracies. We have considerable economic interests with them, and politically as democracies, we have convergence of views,” said Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, announcing the visit from April 9-17. Mr Modi will also make personalise his bilateral meetings with his counterparts: a boat ride with President Hollande, a walk together through the Hannover trade fair with Chancellor Merkel, and addressing the Indian diaspora along with Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper at an event in Toronto.

In France, Mr. Modi will travel to three places: the capital Paris for the bilateral visit and meetings with CEOs, to Toulouse to visit the Airbus factory, the French Space authority CNES and discuss building “smart cities” with officials, and then to the northern town of Lille, where he will drive to a memorial for Indians who fought and died in the first World War. One highlight of this visit will be a boat-ride down the river Seine along with President Francois Hollande, taking in the sights of Paris on Friday evening. “It will be a naav pe charcha (chat on a boat) situation,” quipped Mr. Jaishankar, referring to a similar tete a tete with US President Obama where PM Modi and he shared a cup of tea, dubbeded “chai pe charcha” after their talks.

In Hannover, the informal tete a tete with Chancellor Angela Merkel will be held in the form of a walk through the Hannover Messe industrial fair, where India is a partner this year. The two leaders will inaugurate the India pavilion, and will walktogether as they discuss the potential for German manufacturers to “Make in India”.

“We have a very big presence of India, with almost 400 Indian companies displaying products with 100-120 CEOs present. Around 3,000 German business delegates will be there, and there is clearly a lot of enthusiasm for ‘Make in India’ and investment possibilities.” Mr. Modi will then travel to Berlin for the official state visit and bilateral talks, and will also go to see the Berlin Railway Station, which is known as a “model railway station”.

His final stop in Canada will be driven by two themes, on investment in India as well as reaching out to the Indian-Canadian community, . It is the first stand-alone visit by an Indian PM to Canada since 1973 and Mr. Modi will travel to Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. In Toronto, the Prime Minister will meet Pension investment fund owners specially to pitch for Indian stock. “If you were to see Canada’s assets, their top five investment firms alone control about 700 Billion dollars, so this is a major investment potential for us,” said an official. Mr. Modi will begin his official visit in Ottawa on April 15th and then meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper for bilateral talks. Sources said a deal for nuclear fuel could be announced during the visit. In a Facebook post, Mr. Modi wrote that he looks forward to “Resuming our civil nuclear energy cooperation with Canada,especially for sourcing uranium fuel for our nuclear plants.”

Both the Prime Ministers, Mr. Modi and Mr. Harper, will travel to Toronto for a special event with the Indian-origin community which to be attended by about 10,000 people at the Ricoh coliseum there. The event, organised by the National Alliance of Indo-Canadians, much like the Madison Square Gardens event in New York last year, will have Bollywood-style performances by artistes including Sukhwinder Singh.

Mr. Modi will also visit Vancouver, where the Indian diaspora first settled in the early 1900s, and will also address the business community there. The Prime Minister will return from Canada on April 17th, the 14th May last year, the country he will have visited since he assumed office in May last year.

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