Wednesday, April 10, 2013

PM to ask Europe to ease labour mobility

NEW DELHI, April 10, 2013

Labour mobility, especially from India to the West, will be among the key issues Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his entourage including five Cabinet Ministers will discuss with the top German leadership over the next two days.

\"I will seek Chancellor Merkel's support for an early conclusion of a balanced India-EU Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement. I will also propose that Europe keep its doors open to Indian investors and professionals,\" said Dr. Singh in a statement on Wednesday morning, just before leaving for Germany for his fifth summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Besides expressing himself in favour of greater movement of Indians to the West in exchange for the market access it gets for merchandise, the statement also touched on other issues to be aired during the visit.

The Prime Minister also drew attention to a new format of interaction with Germany in recognition of it being the engine of Europe. Called Inter-Governmental Consultations - first held in May 2011 - they allow discussions on the full spectrum of the relationship. Germany has this format with a few countries.

In Asia, India is the third country after China and Israel with which Berlin has deployed this format of several - about half-a-dozen - Cabinet Ministers facing each other to untie bureaucratic tangles and then reporting on their labours to their respective heads of Government before they sit down for the summit meeting.

In addition to labour mobility, Dr. Singh will seek greater trade and investment ties with Germany and promised more steps to attract foreign investors and spur the economy to an annual growth rate of eight per cent. Western Europe and the US, in particular, have been pressing India to ease foreign investment norms and limits in several sectors with the focus on defence and insurance.

As the undisputed economic behemoth of Europe, Dr. Singh said Germany plays a key role in stability and growth in the Euro Zone, which has an important bearing on the Indian economy.

The two leaders will also discuss their shared interests on the global level such as the United Nations Security Council reforms besides issues such as Afghanistan and the situation in West Asia and the Asia Pacific region.
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