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Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to speak to you today. It is a great pleasure to give the traditional Founder’s Day Lecture of the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce. I would like to thank President Clas Neumann for welcoming me so warmly.
This is my third trip to India since taking office, but my first visit to Bangalore. In India it is impressive to see how history and tradition go hand in hand with progress, innovation and visions for the future. This is especially true of Bangalore.
A global shift is taking place. New powerhouses are emerging in Asia, Latin America and in other parts of the world. Today emergin powers own more currency reserves than industrialized countries. They are driving the global economy.
These emerging economies are also new political players in tackling global challenges. Economic strength generates political power. This also means a greater share of responsibility for the world.
India is at the fore of this development. As the world’s largest democracy, India’s rise is a particular signal.
The fact that a country like India, with its huge regional, religious, social and ethnic diversity, has chosen a free democratic system sends a strong signal to other societies.
The Indian Constitution guarantees democracy and the rule of law. The idea of freedom is at the very heart of the Indian Constitution. Shared values are the firm foundation of our bilateral relations. Germany and India are linked by a strategic partnership.
Economic freedom means competition. India’s economy thrives on competition for the best ideas. Nowhere this is more obvious than here in Bangalore. Competition to find ever better solutions is the driving force behind India’s economic development.
Since India opened up its economy in the early 1990s, millions of Indians have been able to escape from poverty. India’s middle class has now grown to 300 million. That is not only good for domestic consumption. A growing middle class is not only an economic figure. A growing middle class also has a social dimension: the middle class is the bridge between the rich and the poor.
Germany is delighted about the Indian success story. We see India’s rise as a huge opportunity for more cooperation.
Under the slogan “Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities”, Germany is show-casing itself and all its facets to a broad Indian public. We want to generate interest in our country and pave the way for successful cooperation: political, economic and cultural.
I would like to thank all those involved: the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business, the Goethe-Institut and the many companies that have supported the project.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There have been dynamic developments in Indo-German economic relations:
In recent years, we have managed high growth rates in our bilateral trade. We will hit the record of 20 billion euros in 2012. Germany is India’s number one trading partner in the EU.
German businesses have invested more than 5 billion euros in India. These investments make an important contribution to growth and employment. Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai have become the centres of German investment. More than 150 German businesses have set up branches in Bangalore, many of them are small or medium sized enterprises. These businesses are providing work for more than 50,000 people. More than 6000 of them in research and development.
German economic strength is based on quality, reliability and innovation. We seek long term partnerships, not quick profits.
Our bilateral economic record is impressive, despite recent dips. There remains vast potential which we should harness to benefit both our economies.
In twenty years’ time, India is expected to have 215 million more people living in towns and cities than it does now. 68 Indian cities will have a million or more inhabitants.
The rapid growth of cities, the need to build up infrastructure, to guarantee food security and create a sustainable energy supply are just some of the huge challenges India will have to tackle in the coming years. Germany has a lot to offer in this field. At the Urban Mela here in Bangalore we are showcasing German solutions for sustainable and modern urban development. Together with India, we want to seek out innovative methods to enable India to tap German and European experiences for its specific needs.
For me cooperation in the education sphere is especially important. Here in Bangalore, many people think of cutting-edge research. But I am also thinking of our cooperation in the field of vocational training. Vocational training “Made in Germany” has a fantastic reputation and is one of Germany’s prime exports.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Some people in India are worried about Europe these days. They wonder whether Europe is going the right way about overcoming the so-called euro crisis.
The term “euro crisis” is misleading. The euro itself is not in crisis. The opposite is true: our common European currency is a remarkable success story. Whether we look at the exchange rate or the inflation rate, the euro is stable. It has become the world’s number two reserve currency.
In the wake of the financial crisis, governments had to shore up the international banking system with sums amounting to billions. Huge fiscal stimulus packages were put together. Sovereign debt, already high before the crisis, increased more. In the end, the financial markets questioned whether some euro countries would ever be able to repay their massive debts. The sovereign debt crisis turned into a crisis of confidence.
The provision of short-term liquidity alone will not be enough to overcome the crisis. What we need to do is convince the markets that the eurozone will be an area of enduring financial stability in the future.
We are laying the foundations of that stability in the form of three pillars:
Firstly, we are demonstrating great solidarity with those who are under pressure. That’s what’s behind the permanent European Stability Mechanism which will be entering into force in a few weeks’ time. The German Bundestag alone has adopted guarantees of far over 200 billion euros.
The second of our three pillars is that we are generating a new culture of stability. Europe has taken its decision to move away from sovereign debt. This is a fundamental paradigm shift. That is put into force by the European fiscal compact, which is currently being ratified by the EU member states. A number of countries have already ratified it. The German Bundestag is to take its decision on the fiscal compact before the end of the month.
Thirdly, we are paving the way for fresh growth in Europe. It is particularly important for individual eurozone members to become more competitive. You can’t buy competitiveness. Competitiveness can only be achieved through ambitious structural reform.
We have a lot of respect for the reform efforts that a number of European populations have taken on.
Just a few days ago, the people of Greece returned a clear pro-Europe election result.
We welcome the quick formation of the new Greek government. Now progress on the agreed agenda needs to continue. We want Greece to stay in the euro zone.
Germany’s role in all this has been subject to a lot of scrutiny. If you listen to the public commentary, we seem to be caught in something of a dilemma: we are either criticized for being too cautious in addressing the crisis or for being too dominant in dictating our own policies to others. We take both views seriously. And we believe both are beside the point.
Let me be perfectly clear from the outset. There can be no good future for Germany without a good future for a united Europe. The broad consensus in my country is that the answer to the current crisis has to be more Europe, not less Europe. Germany is and will remain deeply and firmly committed to a united Europe.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We want to foster close ties between Europe and the new powerhouses of the global economy. India is strategically vital as a partner in our endeavours. India and Europe share an interest in concluding a comprehensive agreement on free trade and investment. Let’s work quickly to remove whatever obstacles still stand in its way.
It is important for India both to continue opening up its economy to the outside and to keep advancing its reform policy at home.
This is about more than just the economy, however. Any country which wants to help shape globalization needs a strong partner, such as India.
We cannot tackle climate change or secure sustainable energy supplies on our own. Nor can we achieve disarmament or curb the spread of weapons of mass destruction all by ourselves.
We are working together in the UN Security Council on ways to strengthen peace and security around the globe. Together we need to be tenacious in our search for diplomatic solutions to conflict, as in the case of Syria or Iran.
In collaboration with Brazil and Japan, our other two G4 partners, India and Germany are working on reforming the UN Security Council. The Security Council needs to reflect the balance of power as it is today, not as it once was.
The challenges facing India are closely connected with the great global questions of our times. It is our wish to carry on developing this Indo-German partnership for our mutual benefit and in acknowledgement of the global responsibility India and Germany share.