India is the opportunity that German Mittelstand must explore: Rahul Chhabra, Secretary (ER), MEA

New Delhi: Mr Rahul Chhabra, Secretary (Economic Relations), Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India today asserted that Mittelstand companies must focus on India as a land of opportunity and take advantage of India’s growing economy.

Addressing the ‘1st Indo-German Mittelstand Business Summit’, organized by FICCI, jointly with BVMW, Mr Chhabra said, “India is really the opportunity that Mittelstand need to explore, grab and collaborate with. We are looking at four key areas where both countries could collaborate in the Mittelstand which include AI & Digitalization, Environment & Sustainability, Supply chain resilience, and Healthcare sectors.”

He further stated that with the negotiations in trade and investment agreement restarted in the EU, we would see these concluding soon. We will see more companies benefiting from this. “They need to look at India more of an opportunity, rather than a challenge” added Mr Chhabra.

In order to further strengthen the strategic relationship of both countries, Mr Chhabra stated that a few big-ticket investment projects in the areas of HSR (high speed railway) and defence will boost the relationship.

He said that the government has already announced various policy initiatives like the Production Linked Incentive Scheme, Start-up India and Digital India which act as the building blocks which are already in place. “For German companies, we already have a fast-track approval system at DPIIT. The Embassy in Berlin is also promoting ‘Make in India Mittelstand’ under which over 135 companies benefited with over a billion $ investments coming in since 2015,” added Mr Chhabra.

He also urged the companies to explore investment opportunities in the S&T sector. “There is an Indo-German S&T Centre which is already there. We can easily leap-frog using these building blocks,” Mr Chhabra noted.

Dr Jurgen Morhard, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Mumbai said that Indo-Pacific is the new mindset and India has played an eminent role in this. The EU and Germany are committed to play even stronger role in Asia. “Many small Mittelstand companies from Germany are determined to make India their global hub for manufacturing and R&D. We have a much stronger civil society bond as well between the two countries which is helping the industries. No foreign market is easy and challenging but India has a lot of opportunities,” he added.

Mr Dirk Wiese, Member of the German Bundestag & Chairman, German-Indian Parliamentary Friendship Group said that both countries have a lot of potential in the areas of renewable energy and infrastructure. “We have a large number of SMEs which are the backbone of German industry, and we want to bring German SMEs to India under ‘Make in India Mittelstand’ to help strengthen the trade relations,” he added.

Mr Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI said that German companies boast of a track record of being long-standing and dependable investors in India. “Indian investments in Germany are also sizable and have grown significantly in recent years. Within the European Union, Germany currently receives the highest percentage of India’s total annual FDI outflows,” he added.

Mr Markus Jerger, Executive Director, BVMW said that around 80 percent of all apprenticeships in Germany are conducted under the German Mittelstand. “Together with FICCI, we are facilitating Indo-German cooperation and facilitating business for SMEs,” he added.