Merkel Wants Better Trade Relationship with India

May 31, 2011
Germany is India's biggest trading partner in Europe, with bilateral trade at $21 billion in 2010.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel led a large delegation of ministers and businessmen to India on May 31, seeking improved trade between Europe's biggest economy and booming South Asia.

Merkel, who is travelling with four ministers, is to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil during a one-day stop in the Indian capital as part of an Asian tour that will also take her to Singapore.

Germany is India's biggest trading partner in Europe, with bilateral trade at 15.4 billion euros (US$21 billion) in 2010. Indian officials forecast that this figure will grow to 20 billion euros by 2012.

Merkel will also be keen to press the case for the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet, made jointly by a European consortium including Germany, which is competing for a $12 billion deal up for grabs in India.

The Eurofighter is up against the France-made Rafale produced by defense contractor Dassault.

As well as deeper commercial ties, the two are expected to discuss the use of nuclear power. On nuclear power, Germany announced on May 30 that it will phase out its atomic plants by 2022, a global first by a major country in the wake of the disaster in March at Japan's Fukushima plant.

India, meanwhile, has announced plans to dramatically increase its nuclear power capacity and has been in talks with Russian, French, Japanese and US groups to build new plants across the country.

At present, 3% of India's electricity comes from nuclear power but the government wants to increase that to 6% by the end of the decade and 13% by 2030.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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