Friday, May 30, 2003
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By Amit Baruah
Addressing select members of the German and Indian business communities, the Prime Minister pointed to the immense complementarities between the two countries in the economic, scientific and technical fields. ``A fuller awareness of the mutual advantage of collaboration can play a crucial role in transforming our relations into a vibrant strategic partnership.''
``I understand that Germany will dismantle 20,000 MW of nuclear power capacity by 2020. India has an expanding nuclear power programme. We also have conducted advanced research on decommissioning techniques. Germany can source expertise and human resources in India for decommissioning nuclear power plants at very competitive rates.''
Yet again, he addressed the issue of the ``slow pace'' of economic reforms in India. ``There is sometimes criticism about the pace of our reforms. A population of one billion people constitutes a huge market. But it also contains a diversity of perspectives, interests and needs. We cannot simply push through reforms as a shock therapy. What we need is the tonic of compromise and consensus, which support a more equitable growth.''
He said the confidence of foreign investors in India was reflected in the highest-ever inflows of foreign direct investment in the last two years. ``Inclusive of reinvested earnings and overseas commercial borrowings, India attracts annual foreign direct investment of about 1.7 per cent of its GDP, which is a creditable performance for any developing country.''
Stating that there was a sharp increase in the profitability of foreign companies operating in India, Mr. Vajpayee said, ``German business and industry should, therefore, take another close look at India. Our bilateral trade of around five billion Euros is growing at a very modest rate. German investment in India, which was around 200 million Euros annually in the nineties, has now declined to only about 50 million Euros a year.''
``There seems to be an information gap about the immense opportunities in both directions for trade and investment. ...,'' he said and pointed out that certain priority areas had not been identified following discussions with the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder.
``About three weeks ago, India launched a satellite with a payload of over 1,800 kg into geo-synchronous orbit. We are one of only six countries in the world with this capability. We have also launched two German satellites in the last four years. German companies can use Indian satellites for their remote-sensing, communications and research projects.''
Referring to the fact that German companies had been operating in India for more than five decades, Mr. Vajpayee said, ``India is engaged in the challenging and exciting task of steering a billion-strong population towards greater prosperity. Our experience has shown that technology can accelerate this process. We have travelled far in recent decades and are now concentrating on chosen areas of high technology for human development. In this effort, we value the cooperation of partners like Germany.''
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