China’s OBOR is no `Silk Road’, says German ambassador

24 May 2017


Germany in Tuesday said it shared India's concerns on China's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative as a strategic ''top down exercise'' aimed at boosting China's trade with the rest of the world.

Speaking to reporters ahead of the fourth round of India-EU free-trade talks, German ambassador Martin Ney said, ''OBOR is very different from the ancient Silk Road. It's not about free trade, it's a trade-enhancing measure by China.''

India and the European union will formally start the fourth round of inter-governmental consultations in Germany next week with a meeting to be to be presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Ney said Germany is ready to sign a government-to-government defence agreement with India, adding there would be many ''substantial'' agreements during the visit. Defence, trade and strategic concerns are expected to dominate discussions between Modi and Merkel.

Terrorism is a major challenge threatening the whole world and Germany stands by India in its fight against the menace, Ney said, adding that his country has been sharing intelligence with the Indian government.

The German ambassador also said his country supported India's membership of the four export control regimes, specifically India's accession to the NSG.

However, Ney rued the absence of an EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as India's abrogation of all investment treaties with individual countries in Europe made investments in India risky for European nations.

The India-Germany Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), one of 23 BITs with EU countries, lapsed in March this year. Modi's visit to the European Commission in April 2016 failed to bring about any agreement to even resume the talks that essentially broke down over high taxes, market access and India's concerns over visas for skilled workers.

While Germany had already invested Rs53,000 crore into India since 2010 and the Indian government has taken various steps towards ease of doing business, he said, ''New investments into India have no rules and no protection.''

''The core of the inter-governmental consultations is that Germany and India agree on fundamental principles of democracy and institutional principles ... both are members of G-20, want UNSC reform, support a rules-based order and freedom of navigation in accordance with UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea),'' Ney said.

Modi will arrive in Berlin on 29 May and head into a one-on-one dinner with Merkel.

On 30 May, he will get a formal welcome with military honours following which the two delegations will head into a plenary discussion and sign agreements currently being negotiated. He will leave for Spain on the night of 30 May.

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