Prime Min­is­ter Modi’s four-na­tion tour


Be­fore Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi em­barked on his four-na­tion tour to Ger­many, Spain, Rus­sia and France on May 29, it was re­ported that his main fo­cus would be bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion on eco­nomic (in back­drop of In­dia hav­ing passed the Goods and Ser­vices Tax (GST) Bill and record for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment (FDI) in­flows of $43.5 bil­lion dur­ing 2016-17, de­fence, science and tech­nol­ogy, and nu­clear fronts, par­leys on Euro­pean Union-In­dia Free Trade Agree­ment, and fight against ter­ror.

The visit was in the back­drop of Europe deal­ing with Brexit and the United States want­ing NATO mem­bers to pay more, be­sides, US pulled out from the Paris Cli­mate Deal while Modi was in Rus­sia. Re­cently, Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel had an­nounced Europe could no longer com­pletely de­pend on oth­ers – read US and UK. Ber­lin was Modi’s first port of call, where he met Ger­man Pres­i­dent Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier and Chan­cel­lor Merkel, jointly head­ing with lat­ter the fourth bi­en­nial In­ter-Gov­ern­men­tal Con­sul­ta­tions (IGC) be­gun in 2011.

Ger­many sup­ports In­dia’s stand on the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) and In­dia’s bid for the Nu­clear Sup­pli­ers Group (NSG) mem­ber­ship. Dur­ing Modi’s visit, both coun­tries vowed to take strong mea­sures against those who en­cour­age, sup­port and fi­nance ter­ror­ism. Modi said, “Pace of de­vel­op­ment of our re­la­tions is fast, di­rec­tion pos­i­tive and des­ti­na­tion clear. Ger­many will al­ways find In­dia as pow­er­ful, pre­pared and ca­pa­ble part­ner.”

The two sides signed 12 mem­o­ran­dums of un­der­stand­ing (MoUs) and agree­ments in fields like the cy­ber pol­icy, de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tives, sus­tain­able ur­ban de­vel­op­ment, con­tin­ued de­vel­op­ment of clus­ter man­agers and skill de­vel­op­ment, dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, rail­way se­cu­rity and pro­mot­ing vo­ca­tional train­ing. Modi called for unity of EU and said In­dia would play pos­i­tive role for it through Ger­many.

Modi and Merkel later also met se­nior busi­ness lead­ers be­fore in­au­gu­rat­ing the Indo-Ger­man Busi­ness Sum­mit 2017. Ger­many is the largest trade part­ner for In­dia in EU and has made $2 bil­lion FDI in In­dia dur­ing past two years. The Indo-Ger­man Cham­ber of Com­merce, with 25 joint work­ing groups, is the big­gest Ger­man bi­lat­eral cham­ber out­side Ger­many hav­ing more than 7,000 Ger­man and In­dian mem­ber com­pa­nies. Over 1,800 Ger­man com­pa­nies are do­ing busi­ness in In­dia. As for the free trade agree­ment (FTA) with EU, Modi and Merkel agreed on the need to re­sume free-trade talks be­tween In­dia and EU soon.

Modi’s visit to Spain was 29 years af­ter last In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Ra­jiv Gandhi had vis­ited that coun­try in 1988. Modi held talks with the Span­ish Pres­i­dent Mar­i­ano Ra­joy with em­pha­sis on fight­ing ter­ror­ism, par­tic­u­larly in the light of re­cent at­tacks in Manch­ester. The two lead­ers called on the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to end se­lec­tive or par­tial ap­proaches to com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism and jointly called for early fi­nal­i­sa­tion and adop­tion of a Com­pre­hen­sive Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Ter­ror­ism by the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly. Modi thanked Ra­joy for Spain’s sup­port for In­dia’s mem­ber­ship of the Mis­sile Tech­nol­ogy Con­trol Regime (MTCR), while Ra­joy af­firmed Spain’s sup­port for In­dia’s mem­ber­ship of NSG, Wasse­naar Ar­range­ment and Aus­tralia Group.

Five MoUs were later signed be­tween the two coun­tries for co­op­er­a­tion in or­gan transplantation, cy­ber se­cu­rity, re­new­able en­ergy, civil avi­a­tion and one be­tween In­dia’s For­eign Ser­vice In­sti­tute and

Diplo­matic Academy of Spain. In ad­di­tion were two acts on trans­fer of sen­tenced per­sons and visa waiver for diplo­matic pass­port hold­ers. Modi in­vited Span­ish com­pa­nies to in­vest in In­dia. Spain is the 12th largest in­vestor in In­dia and sev­enth largest trad­ing part­ner in EU. More than 200 Span­ish com­pa­nies are ac­tively in­volved in road con­struc­tion, rail­ways, wind power, de­fence and smart cities in In­dia.

Modi’s visit to Rus­sia was for at­tend­ing the an­nual bi­lat­eral sum­mit be­tween the two na­tions, as also at­tend for the first time the St. Peters­burg In­ter­na­tional Eco­nomic Fo­rum (SPIEF). The visit was at a time when Rus­sia has stepped up sales of ad­vanced weaponry to China and has in­creased po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary over­tures to Pak­istan in­clud­ing the sale of of­fen­sive weapons, mil­i­tary ex­er­cises and ac­corded po­lit­i­cal le­git­i­macy to Tal­iban de­spite Pak­istan’s ma­nip­u­lat­ing them for geostrate­gic aims in Afghanistan that in­clude lim­it­ing In­dia’s role in that coun­try.

Prime Min­is­ter Modi and Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin had wide rang­ing dis­cus­sions that cov­ered is­sues like ter­ror­ism and in­creas­ing trade and in­vest­ment. Among the ma­jor out­comes of the sum­mit meet­ing and seven agree­ments signed was the agree­ment on set­ting up of Units 5 and 6 of the Ku­danku­lam Nu­clear Power Plant (KNPP) with Rus­sian help in Tamil Nadu. The re­ac­tors will be built by In­dia’s Nu­clear Power Cor­po­ra­tion of In­dia Lim­ited (NPCIL) and Rus­sia’s Atom­stroy­ex­port com­pany, a sub­sidiary of Rosatom, the reg­u­la­tory body of the Rus­sian nu­clear com­plex. Each of the two units will have a ca­pac­ity to pro­duce 1,000 MW of power.

The two na­tions have also agreed to give new di­rec­tion to de­fence co­op­er­a­tion; hold the first tri-ser­vices ex­er­cises, named ‘In­dra 2017’ this year, and; com­mence joint man­u­fac­tur­ing of frigates, adding on to the co-pro­duc­tion of Kamov 226 mil­i­tary he­li­copters. In­dia and Rus­sia were cel­e­brat­ing the 70th an­niver­sary of their re­la­tions this year. A joint dec­la­ra­tion is­sued af­ter the talks said that “the In­di­anRus­sian spe­cial and priv­i­leged strate­gic part­ner­ship is a unique re­la­tion­ship of mu­tual trust be­tween two great pow­ers.” Pres­i­dent Putin as­serted that Rus­sia’s “trust-based” re­la­tions with In­dia, which he de­scribed as one of its “clos­est friends,” will not be di­luted by Moscow’s grow­ing ties with Pak­istan and other coun­tries.

The joint state­ment is­sued dur­ing Modi’s visit in­cluded: need to re­form the UN and UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (UNSC); Rus­sia reaf­firm­ing sup­port for In­dia’s per­ma­nent seat at UNSC; co­op­er­a­tion within BRICS (Brazil, Rus­sia, In­dia, Chin and South Africa), mul­ti­lat­eral fo­rums and or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WTO), G-20 and the Shang­hai Co­op­er­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion; Rus­si­aIn­dia-China co­op­er­a­tion; strong Rus­sian sup­port for In­dia’s mem- bership in the NSG and Wasse­naar Ar­range­ment; con­dem­na­tion of all forms of ter­ror­ism, call for early con­clu­sion of Com­pre­hen­sive Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Ter­ror­ism, and co­op­er­a­tion in counter-ter­ror­ism. The state­ment also said that In­dia and Rus­sia were look­ing to ex­pand trade from the cur­rent $7.7 bil­lion level to $30 bil­lion by 2025.

In France, Prime Min­is­ter Modi met newly elected Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron for the first time. In­dia and France pledged them­selves to a suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Paris ac­cord on cli­mate change, and vowed to jointly fight the scourge of ter­ror­ism, the two chal­lenges that are stalk­ing the world at large. Prime Min­is­ter Modi said, “In­dia is with the Paris ac­cord, and even be­yond that we will walk to­gether and work to­gether in the in­ter­est of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. In this di­rec­tion In­dia and France are tak­ing sev­eral mea­sures.”

Prime Min­is­ter Modi and Macron dis­cussed ter­ror­ism ex­ten­sively; how to save the world from ter­ror and rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion and how to counter it. Re­fer­ring to cli­mate change and ter­ror­ism as two ma­jor chal­lenges be­fore the world, Modi said, “We can­not see the dan­ger of cli­mate change but we can see the hor­rific ef­fects of ter­ror­ism, we can feel it. In­no­cent peo­ple, women, chil­dren lose their lives to ter­ror. Ev­ery child in France knows the face of ter­ror.” He also said, “Be it trade and tech­nol­ogy, in­no­va­tion and in­vest­ment, en­ergy, ed­u­ca­tion and en­ter­prise, we want to give a boost to In­dia-France ties.”

Macron has ac­cepted Modi’s in­vi­ta­tion to visit In­dia. This was Modi’s third visit to France in the last three years. In 2015, France was the first Euro­pean coun­try that Modi vis­ited as Prime Min­is­ter. Last year, he was in Paris to at­tend the UN Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence. His meet­ing Macron now will keep In­dia-France ties on the up­swing. Bi­lat­eral ties be­tween In­dia and France have grown steadily: From €5.13 bil­lion in 2006 to €8.5 bil­lion in 2015. France is the ninth largest for­eign in­vestor in In­dia. To­day, more than 1,000 French com­pa­nies across a wide range of sec­tors are in In­dia and em­ploy around 3 lakh peo­ple. Around 75 In­dian com­pa­nies op­er­ate in France, em­ploy­ing around 7,000 peo­ple. France was the first coun­try to sign a civil nu­clear agree­ment with In­dia, even be­fore the US Se­nate had ap­proved the In­dia-US nu­clear agree­ment. In­dia and France signed a strate­gic part­ner­ship in 1998 and has a High Com­mit­tee on De­fence Co­op­er­a­tion. All in all, the four-na­tion tour of Prime Min­is­ter Modi has pro­moted In­dian in­ter­ests at the geopo­lit­i­cal level, even as the main fo­cus re­mained on ter­ror­ism, en­vi­ron­ment and trade. In terms of trade and in­vest­ments, it is now up to In­dia how we can cut the red tape and climb up in the ease of busi­ness rank­ing.

(Left) Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and the Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Dr An­gela Merkel at the Joint Press State­ments in Ber­lin, Ger­many, on May 30, 2017; (right) Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi meet­ing the Pres­i­dent of Spain Mar­i­ano Ra­joy at La Mon­cloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, on May 31, 2017.

(Left) Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and the Pres­i­dent of Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion, Vladimir Putin in St. Peters­burg, Rus­sia, on June 1, 2017; (right) Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi with the Pres­i­dent of France, Em­manuel Macron, in Paris on June 3, 2017.

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