Indo-German ties ready for new growth
âHyderabad can get on the investor list because I have confidence in what the government is doing. offer is attractive ‘
Prior to his visit, German Ambassador Walter J. Lindner tweeted that it was great to come back to Hyderabad and that he was looking forward to a busy and exciting Sunday / Monday schedule.
Indeed, it turned out that the diplomat, who is an active musician, captivated the audience with the flute at the 4th International Jazz Festival, helped the Telangana government and potential investors from Germany to create synergies and visited the University of Hyderabad.
In an interview, ahead of an investor summit on Monday, he said India-Germany relations were ripe for further growth to come. Edited excerpts:
How are India-Germany relations going, especially in the context of the pandemic, and what are the areas where greater cooperation is possible?
COVID-19 has affected all countries. These are two years when we really haven’t had a lot of delegations.
The [German] The Chancellor was here in November 2019. She was followed by a visit from our Minister for Economic Cooperation. Afterwards, we met digitally. We must revitalize the physical presence. The links have not suffered because of the COVID.
On the contrary, they have become more intense, especially with a focus on how to deal with the pandemic and the problems around the world. I think our two governments have found a good way to communicate digitally – to be on the same page on topics like Afghanistan, trade, climate [change]. Our relationship is not only focused on the economy, it also concerns student exchanges, culture, agriculture, development policy.
India is the country where we invest most of our development funds, 1.2 billion euros.
Do you see the possibility of greater collaboration between German medium-sized companies and small and medium-sized companies in India?
German mid-sized companies have been around for decades, have proven their presence and are here to stay.
They know what they want.
None of them left during COVID. We are ready to restart the process [of matchmaking], if the [Coronavirus] the mutation allows. Investor summits such as the one held here are important because they provide a forum for companies to define their expectations if they are to invest.
How important is India to investors in Germany, especially in the context of the growing emphasis on supply chain diversification beyond China?
We have 2,000 companies here and they are mainly in Pune, Bangalore, Gujarat and a few here.
They have a reason to be here. One example is the Schott plant in Gujarat which manufactures glass used in vaccine packaging and is one of the largest production facilities of this type. It is an example of Made in India with German know-how. COVID and the interconnectivity of the globalized world have shown that we need to diversify our supply chain. It is not, however, to exclude a nation to produce something, but to diversify, to get more sources or to get things.
Where does Telangana appear in the plans of German companies?
When I was here two months ago I spoke to the Minister [K.T.Rama Rao] and he said bring in more German companies and let it be known that we have good conditions. Hyderabad is not yet at the top of the list of German investors, but it could improve because I was convinced last time here that the [Telangana] government offer is quite attractive. Political stability, ease of doing business, infrastructure, public transport, efficient administration, a skilled workforce are things that every business looks for.
A new regime is about to take office in Germany, how will the change impact bilateral relations?
The new regime is led by the Social Democratic Party which was part of the coalition. The new chancellor is a very experienced person, was mayor of Hamburg, minister and also focused, not so different from [the outgoing] Chancellor Angela Merkel in her way of acting and thinking. Germany had good relations with the previous government [in India], we have a good relationship with the current government.
When can we expect the next ministerial level discussion to take place?
India is a strategic country [partner] and we have government-to-government meetings every two years. The last was when Chancellor Merkel was here in November 2019. Due to COVID we were unable to have negotiations, now we will have another meeting hopefully in the first half of 2022. This time Indian ministers will travel to Germany.
What vaccines are used in Germany?
BioNTech / Pfizer and Moderna were used. Covishield has been approved. While the WHO has approved Covaxin, we have to wait for the EU’s decision. We are very positive about Covaxin.