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Business

Germany pushes for free trade with India

German Economics Minister Philipp Rösler has urged India to reconsider its reservations about a free trade zone with the European Union. The topic is high on the agenda of a German industry meeting in New Delhi.

German Economics Minister Philipp Rösler on Thursday once again threw his weight behind the idea of a free trade zone between India and the European Union. He said on the fringes of an Asia Pacific conference in New Delhi that such a zone would be desirable.

But he admitted that talks about the creation of a free trade zone had yielded little results since negotiations started six years ago.

Rösler, who was accompanied by a large delegation of business leaders from Germany, mentioned in particular that existing Indian customs duties in the automobile and engineering sectors stood in the way of a quick solution.

Lucrative deals possible

Rösler said he hoped the conference would provide fresh impetus for further improvements in business ties between Germany and Asia, and India in particular. "There's a big need for infrastructure improvements in Asia, and there's a big need for machinery, modern technology and renewables," the minister told DAPD news agency. "In all these sectors, German companies have a lot to offer."

He added that German firms were interested in getting a bigger foot in the door on the Indian market, but complained about high corruption levels.

Despite a number of persistent problems, the trade volume between India and Germany has more than tripled in the past 10 years. In 2011, it amounted to 18 billion euros ($23.3 billion) and is expected to rise to 20 billion euros throughout the current year. According to the German-Indian Chamber of Commerce, more than 1,000 German firms are currently active in India.

hg/mz (dapd, dpa)