Modi and Merkel vow trade talks and 2bn green energy euros

New Delhi, October 5

India and Germany pledged today to revive efforts to reach an Indo-European free trade pact after talks fell apart this year, and struck deals to promote clean energy and make it easier to do business.

Although Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi made no mention in conversations with journalists of resuming talks on a free trade agreement between India and the European Union, it was perhaps the most significant ‘deliverable’ of her trip to New Delhi.

The leaders ‘committed themselves to bringing about earliest possible resumption of talks’, said a joint statement.

Asia’s third-largest economy has been relatively insulated from a slump in global trade, but Modi still needs to boost exports for his pitch to investors to ‘Make in India’ to create skilled jobs for millions of young Indians.

Germany, Europe’s largest economy, is looking to expand its presence in India to compensate for a slowdown in China. Merkel’s delegation was joined by bosses from household names like Siemens, Airbus, EON and Thyssenkrupp. The trade talks have been on ice since India walked out in a row over exports of generic drugs to EU earlier this year.

Germany, a world leader in renewable energy, will also provide more than two billion euros in aid for solar projects and green energy corridors — or high-efficiency power grids — as part of a broader push for sustainable development.

The assistance, part of a raft of pacts signed in New Delhi, dovetails with efforts to bind India into a global debate that will culminate in COP21 climate change summit in December.

“We look forward to a concrete outcome at COP21 in Paris that strengthens the commitment and ability of the world, especially of poor and vulnerable countries, to transition to a sustainable growth path,” Modi said.

India, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, was the last major country to submit its energy strategy ahead of the UN climate conference.

India’s energy plan seeks to boost energy efficiency but makes no commitment to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases — reflecting its view that richer nations bear most responsibility for global warming.