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Germany pushes India to conclude FTA with EU soon

Amid German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party triumphing at the polls, Germany Monday pushed for India to conclude the long-pending Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union.

German Ambassador Michael Steiner said: "If India has to get back to the growth rate of 8 percent it will need investment from companies that are not following the philosophy of hot money."

"It will be a pity if India misses the free trade and investment train," he told reporters at the embassy here.

Negotiations on the FTA, officially dubbed the Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) between India and the 27-nation European Union, were launched in June 2007 but have been facing hurdles with both sides having differences on crucial issues.

Steiner said both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Merkel are in favour of concluding the trade and investment agreement. He said with the EU, the largest economy, and the US, the second largest economy in the world, holding talks on a free trade and investment agreement of their own there was need for India to conclude the talks with the EU early.

Describing the German election results as symbolic of pro-European Union majority, the ambassador said all the political parties in Germany are in agreement on strategic partnership with India.

He said Indian Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh had been in Germany early this month for talks on strategic issues and the India Germany High Technology partnership Group first meeting held in Berlin. The meeting was held to boost bilateral trade in high technology.