NEW DELHI: Germany may be India’s closest partner in Europe but New Delhi has its work cut out to stay relevant in the continent. A day after PM Narendra Modi took off for Spain, China has occupied eyeballs in Berlin, with Chinese premier Li Keqiang visiting to meet chancellor Angela Merkel.
“China is very important to us for economic and trade reasons,” a German official said. China is Germany’s largest trading partner outside of Europe but beyond the economy, Germans are a little wary of both China’s trading and geopolitical principles, and also of its expansionist projects like OBOR.
India comes in exactly at the right time as the perfect ‘hedge’ for German political and economic outreach, but India’s moment is not likely to stay for too long. “India is not yet on the German radar,” an official, observing that media coverage of Modi’s visit was not even close to the coverage the Chinese are getting.
However, there is recognition that India needs a lot more attention than it gets at present. The German foreign office has created a new Asia-Pacific department, which is expected to focus more on India and China. Officials expect this would automatically put India front and centre in their policy discourses.
Key to the future of Germany-India or EU-India ties is the economic and trade relationship. That is why India will have work harder to get this going. Indian officials confirmed they were under political pressure to restart negotiations on a trade and investment pact with EU.