Angela Merkel renews pressure for TLC with India, promises green funds

NEW DELHI: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that a new attempt was needed to restart talks to finalize a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the European Union.

Merkel, who is in India together with several colleagues from the cabinet and a trade delegation, began to talk with Prime Minister Narendra Modi about trade, investment, regional security and climate change.

A free trade pact with India has long been a pending demand from Germany, which is India's largest trading partner in Europe. The pact has been in discussion for years.

We need a new attempt at an EU-India FTA. We were close once, Merkel said in New Delhi, adding that he had an intense discussion about the FTA with Modi.

With the new EU commission there will be a new attempt, he said.

With more than 1,700 German companies operating in India, a free trade pact could help minimize the uncertainty experienced by German investors after an investment protection agreement between the two countries that ended in 2016.

While addressing an audience in the Indo-German Chambers of Commerce, Merkel said she had an open discussion with Modi about the problems faced by German companies and the difficulties reported by small and medium-sized businesses to find the way to the maze of the bureaucracy.

In recent months, German companies have raised some other concerns, including the slowdown in India's automotive sector, the lack of a stable formulation of ad-hoc policies and decisions that, they say, have affected buyers' feelings. and created uncertainty among car manufacturers.

Merkel said Germany will spend one billion euros ($ 1.12 billion) over the next five years on green urban mobility projects conceived under the new German-Indian partnership.

German funds It will be used to finance several environmentally friendly projects, such as the introduction of electric buses to replace the diesel used for public transportation in urban centers.

The new funds promised by Germany come at a time when the pollution made the air so toxic in the capital of India, New Delhi, that officials were forced to declare a public health emergency.

The photos of Merkel's official visit show the visible effects of smog in the presidential palace, although both Modi and Merkel ignored the declared public health emergency and did not wear masks.