India and Germany today set the stage for cutting-edge collaboration between the two countries, especially in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and digital transformation of manufacturing to strengthen global competitiveness as production centres.
However, Germany’s offer in the defence area fell short of Indian expectations. A joint statement issued after a delegation-level meeting with the visiting German Chancellor, Mrs. Angela Merkel, merely expressed sentiments in favour of co-development and co-production with India highlighting its proposed defence corridors in Tamil Nadu and UP and Germany the scope for cooperation in the naval sphere, especially submarines.
Perhaps, aware of this shortcoming, they decided to institutionalise the dialogue between Defence Ministers at least once in two years. They also decided on Foreign Office consultations headed by the respective Foreign Secretaries every year and 'Track 1.5 Strategic Dialogue' to enable key stakeholders to engage annually.
There was no mention of Kashmir in the joint statement though there was a passage calling on all countries to work towards rooting out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists. As radical indoctrination is a worry in both countries, India and Germany decided to schedule an early meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism for greater sharing of information and intelligence on terror networks.
For India, Germany is the most important country among the 28 European Union nations in the sphere of trade and investment. It is India’s top trading partner in goods in the EU — 23 billion dollars annually – and 800 German companies operate in India.