“India looks at the pandemic as an opportunity to make the country an active manufacturing hub,” the Foreign Secretary said

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Friday reiterated that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the need for more “secure and reliable” supply chains.

“There is global recognition that we need to diversify our supply chains and design them to be more resilient to disruptions like the current pandemic,” the Foreign Secretary said in his opening statement at the Indo-German 1.5 Track Dialogue 2020.

Since the pandemic began, India has undertaken a number of reform measures.

“We have simplified our labour laws; instituted landmark reforms in the agriculture sector; and launched production linked incentive schemes to attract investment in sectors ranging from electronics manufacturing and solar modules to auto, textiles and pharmaceuticals,” the Foreign Secretary said in a virtual format.

“We have also liberalized and incentivized the small and medium enterprises sector, and look forward to further enhancing our partnership with Germany’s Mittelstand ecosystem in this context,” he added.

The Foreign Secretary said India looks at the pandemic as an opportunity to make the country, in the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an “active manufacturing hub placed at the heart of global value chains.”

Talking about the current business friendly environment in India and opportunity for German companies to take benefit of it, the Foreign Secretary said, “While German companies already have a large and diversified portfolio of investments in India – Germany currently has the seventh largest foreign direct investments in India, as you are likely aware, these recent reforms have created greater investment opportunities for German companies.”

“German companies can ramp up their investments in India in a way that can decisively change our current paradigm,” he added.

The Foreign Secretary said both India and Germany have potential for collaboration in the area of digitalization, startups, innovation, new and emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence.

“You might recall that during the visit of Chancellor Angela Merkel to India last year, our leaders had decided to strengthen cooperation in Artificial Intelligence and digital transformation,” he added.

The Foreign Secretary maintained that India has placed “great emphasis on liberalizing the tech and innovation industry” in the country.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at the Bengaluru Tech Summit last week, noted how we have not only created a market for digital and tech solutions, but also made technology a key part of all Government schemes. The Digital India Mission launched by our government five years ago has made a tremendous impact on the lives of our citizens, especially those from poor and marginalized sectors,” the Foreign Secretary said.

“There is a clear synergy in this area for India and Germany to take advantage of. While Germany has the research and development capability in technology, India has the human resources and the market to complement this,” he added.

He maintained that India also has the third largest startup ecosystem in the world which is expected to grow at 12-15% annually with support from the government’s flagship initiative, Start-Up India. India is fourth when it comes to Unicorns alone.

“I know that Germany too has a robust startup ecosystem which is one of the best in Europe. Germany has historically been a leader in innovation and we hope to collaborate with you to take our economic partnership ahead in a mutually beneficial way,” he said.

The Foreign Secretary said climate change is another area on which India and Germany have a strong convergence of views and interests. India played an important role in reaching the agreement to combat climate change at Paris in 2015.

“Despite its huge developmental challenges and energy requirements, India set ambitious targets for itself in renewable power, non-fossil fuel energy and increasing the green cover. And today, India is not only on track to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, but is going beyond these commitments in its fight against climate change,” the Foreign Secretary maintained.

“Germany also has ambitious targets, and with its cutting edge climate sensitive technologies, can partner with India in significantly tackling this challenge. We also look forward to Germany joining the International Solar Alliance soon,” he added.