PM leaves for home after three-day Germany visit

Prime Minister Mamohan Singh today left for home after his three-day visit here during which key issues like India-EU FTA were discussed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel articulating the impediments in inking of the pact.

Pitching for investments from Germany and other countries, Prime Minister Singh made it clear during the trip that government's resolve to boost economic growth remains "unwavering".

India and Germany also inked about six key MoUs including that for putting together Euro seven million for next four years towards joint research in the field of higher education and a pact for a soft loan of Euro one billion for strengthening the green energy corridor in India.

Singh was accompanied by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah, Human Resource Development Minister M Pallam Raju and Science and Technology Minister Jaipal Reddy.

While a number of issues figured during the discussions held between the two sides, the long pending India-EU FTA was one of the main focus.

Germany pressed India to hike the foreign equity cap in the insurance sector and reduce tariffs on import of automobiles as a prelude to the India-EU Free Trade Agreement.
After talks with Singh, Merkel said that India and the EU have not  yet overcome "all the difficulties" in reaching an agreement to conclude the FTA.

India is pressing Germany, the biggest economy in Europe, to provide a "strong political thrust" for inking of broad-based Bilateral Investment and Trade Agreement (BITA) with the 27-nation European block.

Merkel, who jointly co-chaired the second round of Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) with Singh, however, minced no words when she said that the increase in the insurance cap by India was "undeniably" an important issue apart from resolution of issues such as tariff rate quota on imports of German cars, Services and Intellectual Property Rights.

Singh on his part said that he and Merkel were agreed on the "importance" of an early conclusion of a "balanced" India-EU FTA.

Germany, which inked six pacts with India in diverse fields including education, agriculture and clean energy, will provide concessional loans of up to Euro one billion over the next six years to foster increased use of renewable energy in India through technical and financial cooperation by way of integrating additional renewable energy generation capacity with the national grid.

The Technical cooperation would be implemented through the German Agency for International Cooperation.

Besides bilateral relations, Iran, Afghanistan and steps to combat terrorism were among other issues that figured during the IGC.

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