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Angela Merkel in India for joint cabinet meet

May 31, 2011, 10.22am IST

NEW DELHI: India and Germany will hold their first inter-governmental consultations at the cabinet-level when Chancellor Angela Merkel visits New Delhi on Tuesday on an invitation from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

India is the first Asian country and one of very few nations with which Germany holds a joint cabinet meeting and this is seen as a demonstration of its high esteem for India as a long-standing and reliable partner and as a recognition of the country's rapidly growing economic clout and technological prowess.

India was one of the first nations to recognise the Federal Republic of Germany, when it was carved out of the three zones occupied by the western allies at the end of World War II and Merkel will be paying tribute to 60 years of "successful" diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The Indo-German inter-governmental consultations in New Delhi will be chaired jointly by Chancellor Merkel and Singh and it will be attended by five German cabinet ministers as well as senior officials from several ministries.

Among them are minister for foreign affairs Guido Westerwelle, defence minister Thomas de Maiziere, interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, minister for Transport and construction Peter Ramsauer and minister for education and research Annete Schavan.

Further expanding and intensifying the economic cooperation between the two countries will be high on the agenda of the meeting and the two sides are expected to explore ways to step up bilateral trade as well as to promote German investments in India and vice-versa.

Discussions will also focus on new possibilities for cooperation in building up and modernising India's infrastructure, development of renewable and conventional energy sources and promotion of technical education and vocational training as well as new avenues for cooperation in the field of defence.

Economic co-operation has been the main pillar of Indo-German relations and its continuing importance is evident from the fact that Merkel is taking with her a high-ranking business delegation of 19 top managers of leading companies representing key industrial sectors such as civil and military aerospace, auto ancillaries, electrical industry, chemicals, machine tools, railway technology and technical services.

Germany is India's largest trading partner in the European Union and bilateral trade has been growing rapidly in recent years.

The exchange of goods and services between the two countries went up by 17.8 per cent in 2010 and reached a record level of 15.44 billion euros.

However, the India's deficit in bilateral trade widened as it imported goods from Germany worth 9.25 billion euros, 14.32 per cent more than in 2009, compared to its exports to Germany worth 6.19 billion euros, 21.49 per cent up from the level of the previous year.

India's main imports from Germany include machinery, engineering goods, aircraft, precision equipment and control systems, metal products, chemicals and synthetic items.

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