The Indian Council of World Affairs in collaboration with Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), New Delhi organiseda Track 1.5 Dialogue with its German counter-parts - German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA)-StiftungWissenschaft und Politik (SWP)-Bertelsmann Stiftungon 27 November 2020. This was the second round of the Dialogue; the first was held on the side-lines of the bilateral Inter-Governmental Consultations in New Delhi in November 2019. Opening Statements were delivered by Shri Harsh VardhanShringla, Foreign Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, India and NielsAnnen, State Minister, Federal Foreign Office, Gernamy. Discussions were structured in two sessions on Foreign & Security Policy and Trade & Economics.
2. Shri Harsh VardhanShringla, Foreign Secretary, in his address said that the health crisis had brought discussions on international cooperation and on how to deal with post pandemic economic recovery into sharper focus. The pandemic had brought to the fore the need for more secure, reliable and resilient supply chains. The Atmanirbhar Bharat or Self Reliant India Campaign launched by PM Modi merged domestic production and consumption with global supply chains. India had undertaken a number of reforms in the labour, agriculture and investment sector which create greater investment opportunities for German companies. There exists great potential for collaboration in the area of digitalization, innovation, start-ups, new and emerging technologies, climate sensitive technologies. While Germany has the R&D capability in technology, India had the human resources and the market to complement. He said that India and Germany had a high degree of convergence on the Indo-Pacific; India had welcomed the Indo-Pacific Guidelines released by Germany earlier this year; and that the two sides needed to work together in advancing practical cooperation in Indo-Pacific region to ensure security and growth for all. He noted that climate change was an area on which India and Germany had a strong convergence of views. He called upon Germany to join the International Solar Alliance.
3. State Minister NielsAnnen, Federal Foreign Office, Germany said that the on-going health crisis had significantly altered the political, social and economic landscape. COVID-19 and the US-China trade conflict and worsening bilateral relations have made nations in Europe position themselves to protect their political and economic interests. China is a partner of Germany on issues like the pandemic, a competitor on issues like manufacturing, trade and investment, and a rival on issues like human rights, territorial disputes, etc. On Indo-Pacific, he said that Germany recognised the need to upgrade its role in the Indo-Pacific. Germany gives significant importance to free, open and safe sea routes. Germany and India have an important role to play in the region. There is a need to bring in more countries within the ambit of the Indo-Pacific having the scope of a multilateral dialogue. He expressed appreciationfor India’s active, positive and dynamic role in the Indo-Pacific. He also noted Germany and India’s convergences in the areas of climate change, human rights, connectivity.
4. Session I on Foreign and Security Policy was chaired by Dr TCA Raghavan, Director General, Indian Council of World Affairs. Speakers included Amb. Anil Wadhwa, Former Ambassador of India and Distinguished Fellow, Vivekananda International Foundation and Prof. Dr. Amrita Narlikar, President, GIGA. It was observed that there were a number of convergences in the foreign and security policies of India and Germany and that these convergences had become more pronounced in the context of the Indo-Pacific. It was noted that there was a need to give equal focus on the Western Indian Ocean and Eastern Indian Ocean within the Indo-Pacific. For India, China is an immediate neighbour and, in light of the recent clashes at the border, the security perspective of the relations is different from the threat that is perceived by Germany or other nations of the European Union which viewed it more as an economic threat or competition. The need by Germany to give adequate attention to trans-Atlantic relations in its Indo-Pacific strategy was also commented upon.
5. Session II on Trade and Economics was chaired by Ms. Anika Laudien, Project Manager, Bertelsmann Stiftung. The speakers of the session were Dr.Hanns-GüntherHilpert, Head of Research Division Asia, SWP and Prof. S.K. Mohanty, RIS, New Delhi. Discussions were held on the impact of COVID-19 on respective economies. It was noted that the EU was pursuing a trade policy that is value based which considered consumer safety, investment protection, sustainable development, etc as key objectives. Accordingly, it was looking for like-minded partners in the Asia-Pacific. India is an economy with a potential for high growth and is a country with macroeconomic stability, political stability and a democratic framework, conditions which Germany wishes to leverage for enhanced cooperation. However, issues related to immigration rules, market openness, development bottlenecks remain. It was noted that both India Germany were resilient economies given that they are expected to grow at 8.8% and 4.2% in 2021 respectively despite the pandemic. Marine technologies, investments in innovation and technology, blue economy were identified as potential areas of cooperation between India and Germany.