Europe open for international trade, says German Chancellor Scholz
Asserting that Europe remains open for international trade, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said he is doing his utmost to ensure that the free trade agreements with India and some other countries gets sealed.
The European Union, within which Germany is among India’s biggest trade partners, relaunched negotiations last year with India for a Free Trade Agreement, and launched separate negotiations for an Investment Protection Agreement and an Agreement on Geographical Indications (GIs).
In a special address at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 here on Wednesday evening, the Chancellor said, “I am doing my utmost to ensure that the free trade agreements we have successfully negotiated with Canada, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, and Chile will soon be followed by new ones: with MERCOSUR, India, and Indonesia.”
“And we are also open to discuss a tariff agreement for the industrial sector with the United States,” he added.
Overall, the EU is India’s third largest trading partner, accounting for 88 billion euro worth of trade in goods in 2021 with nearly 11 per cent share of total Indian trade.
India, on the other hand, is EU’s 10th largest trading partner with nearly 2 per cent share in goods trade. Trade in services between India and the EU stood at over 30 billion euro in 2020.
The trade negotiations aim at removing barriers and helping EU firms, especially smaller ones, to export more and open up services and public procurement markets.
These negotiations also seek to ensure protection of geographical indications; pursue ambitious commitments on trade and sustainable development, and; make sure the agreed rules are enforceable.
In his special address, Scholz reaffirmed Germany’s goal of attaining climate neutrality, or net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, by 2045.
While the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 initially appeared to throw a spanner into German and European ambitions for the transition to renewables, Scholz said Russia’s aggression has actually accelerated that shift.
“Our transformation toward a climate-neutral economy — the fundamental task of our century — is currently taking on an entirely new dynamic, not in spite of, but because of, the Russian war,” he said.
Within a few months of the war’s onset, Scholz said, Germany had made itself completely independent from Russian gas oil and coal.
“Initial fears of energy shortfalls, especially with the approach of winter, proved unfounded and we have concluded new partnerships with Asia, Africa and America, thus lessening our dependence,” he said.
Scholz further said his country will finally benefit from modern immigration legislation.
“After all, if we want to remain competitive as a leading industrial nation, we need experienced practitioners, qualified engineers, tradesmen and mechanics,” he said. “Those who want to roll up their sleeves are welcome in Germany. That is our message,” the Chancellor added.