BERLIN: Germany may be India’s closest partner in Europe, but New Delhi has its work cut out to stay relevant in Europe. A day after Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, took off for Spain, China has occupied eyeballs in Berlin with Chinese premier Li Keqiang visiting here to meet Angela Merkel.
“China is very important to us for economic and trade reasons,” official sources 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, but 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,” said officials on condition of anonymity, observing that the media coverage of Modi’s visit is 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 now 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 center 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 would have to work harder to get this going. Officials here confirmed they are under political pressure to restart negotiations on a trade and investment agreement with the EU.
But that might be easier said than done. Therefore, officials are investigating ways to get around the EU stipulation to work on investment issues bilaterally. This is still being worked on, they said, but it’s a start.