Modi, Merkel seek to give economic muscle to Indo-German ties

Bengaluru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday sought to give a new direction to bilateral ties by strengthening economic and business links as Indian and German companies signed five agreements and automotive giant Bosch announced Rs.650 crore investments in India.

Modi exhorted German industry to invest and 'Make in India' for a growing domestic market and huge export markets the world over, while Merkel exuded great confidence that ties would see a quantum leap.

Flagging the opportunities, ranging from building 50 million houses to setting up 100 smart cities, Modi said German investors and companies could also explore modernisation of the vast state-run railway network and stations to setting up of new railway corridors.

"Generation of 175 gw (giga watt) of renewable energy to construction of transmission and distribution networks, national highways, bridges, and metro rails are among the investment opportunities beckoning the robust German industry," he said.

Digital India, Skill India and Startup campaigns were showcased to the high profile business delegation accompanying Merkel, who began a three-day official visit Sunday night.

Indian and German companies signed five agreements on smart mobile urban solutions, Software Defined Radios, development of solar projects, skills development in electrical semi conductors and collaboration in machine tools on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Bosch Ltd announced that Rs.650 crore would be invested in India for developing its innovation network when Modi and Merkel visited its establishment here.

At the Indo-German summit themed "Digitizing Tomorrow Together", Modi assured global investors on the ease of doing business in India and addressed taxation concerns which many of them have.

Modi assured India would not resort to retrospective taxation, noting it had not levied minimum alternative tax (MAT) on foreign portfolio investors and deferred implementing the General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) by two more years.

He said they were hopeful of rolling out the Goods and Services Tax Bill from April 2016, and also announced a new bankruptcy code to hasten the pace of liquidation in stress cases. "We are working on a new bankruptcy code and a company law tribunal will be set up to improve ease of doing business in India with a transparent and predictable tax regime," Modi said

Stressing that the government had no business to be in business, he said the country was committed to protect Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) of all innovators and entrepreneurs. In her address at the summit, Merkel said here country is interested in partnering with India in skill development, railways, infrastructure, energy, mobility and training.

"India needs highly skilled jobs and Germany needs highly skilled labour. In the framework of Skill India we need business links, science links and political links," she said. Terming India as the silicon valley of Asia, she said 170 German companies are operating in Bengaluru and nearly 1,600 companies all over India, some of which are older than 100 years.

Merkel also highlighted that Indo-German bilateral trade reached up to 60 billion euros and with a business volume of 10 billion Euros through German companies in India, Germany has become an important investor.

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