German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was on a two-day trip to India. This was the German Chancellor’s maiden visit to India after taking over as Chancellor of Germany in December 2021.
On February 26, 2023, he wrapped up his two-day trip to India, amidst the ongoing Ukrainian war and the G20 Finance Ministerial Meeting in India. On February 25, 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted Olaf Scholz, and both leaders had a wide range of discussions, from defense cooperation to an easy visa application regime.
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Berlin-New Delhi: Fields of Cooperation
France and Germany, under the broader mandate of Brussels, have been lobbying India to use its influence in Moscow to initiate peace negotiations or some semblance of such. Germany and India are seeking to enhance their defense cooperation, and as per the Foreign Secretary of India, the two leaders had a multi-layered and multi-pronged discussion on defense cooperation, focusing mainly on the co-development and co-design of military hardware and the transfer of technology.
PM Narendra Modi and the German Chancellor discussed bilateral cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and developing a joint effort to counter the belligerence and hegemonic ambitions of China. Though Germany, unlike France, is not a resident power in the Indo-Pacific, it shares the same vision of a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific as the USA, India, Japan, and others.
Germany enjoys a positive trade balance with India. As of November 2022, Germany exported €1.51 billion and imported €1.31 billion from India, resulting in India having a negative trade balance with Germany to the tune of €200 million.
Security and defense cooperation: a key pillar
At Hyderabad House in New Delhi, the German Chancellor and Indian Prime Minister, while interacting with the press, said that defense cooperation and security can become an important pillar of strategic partnership between Berlin and New Delhi. Security cooperation has an untapped potential between Berlin and New Delhi. Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwarta, while detailing the discussion between the PM and Chancellor, told the press that under
Project 75 I of the Indian Navy, the discussion is underway with Germany to build six submarines in India with elements of co-designing, co-development, and manufacturing in India, as well as the transfer of technology. The submarine is going to be a key strategic machine to counter belligerence in the Indo-Pacific, and Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems of Germany and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering of South Korea are currently in a race to win the bid for submarines.
Berlin is seeking Indian IT workforce
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Silicon Valley and the IT hub of India, and urged the IT specialist and other skilled workers of India, to grab the opportunity to work in Germany. Germany is facing a skilled labor crunch and is looking to relax its immigration visa regime to attract talent. The German Chancellor during his visit to SAP India Labs in Bengaluru on February 26, 2023, said that Germany is planning to relax language requirements to help make Germany a more attractive destination for skilled professionals who otherwise prefer English-speaking countries. In his speech, the chancellor said that 1,800 German companies that are active in India have provided thousands of jobs.
Result of PM-Chancellor meeting
The meeting between Chancellor Olaf Scholz and PM Modi on February 25 resulted in two intergovernmental documents. The first is the “India-Germany Vision to enhance cooperation in innovation and technology,” and the second is “a Letter of intent between the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems of Germany” for vibrant cooperation in clean energy technologies and green hydrogen. Olaf Scholz also met with players and officials from the IPL team, Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Post-Second World War, India was among the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the Federal Republic of Germany. On the trade front, the relationship feels the lack of a separate bilateral investment treaty, as the framework is currently under the Bilateral Trade and Investment Treaty of the EU because Berlin couldn’t negotiate a separate treaty with India. Given the strategic geo-political landscape of Europe during the Ukraine War, aggressive China in the Indo-Pacific, the looming climate change crisis, and the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, there are multiple areas of cooperation between Berlin and New Delhi based on shared values, leading to a partnership based on the contemporary relationship between two like-minded nations.