As the importance of cross-Atlantic ties is decreasing with Indo-Pacific becoming a new hub of global geopolitics, the European powers, especially Germany and France, are keen to woo India. Both countries are aware that India is among the most important powers in the post-Coronavirus world and one of three poles of the globe (with the other two being the United States and China).
Therefore, France and Germany both see India as an integral part of the new global supply chain as well as geopolitics. A few days ago, the German foreign ministry revealed its Indo-Pacific with ‘key role’ for India. If a country as diplomatic as Germany announces India as key partners and reveals a strategy which talks about ‘diversification’ of supply chains and free navigation in the Indo-Pacific (veiled threat to China), it means that they desperately want New Delhi on their side.
“The COVID situation made it clear that supply chains cannot be dominated by anyone. There must be a diversification of supply chains. Germany favours diversification of supply chains and India plays a critical role in that. No global challenges in today’s world can be solved without India’s participation,” said German Ambassador to India Walter Lindner in an interview with Economic Times.
“More than 90 per cent of the world’s foreign trade is conducted by sea, a large part of which via the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Up to 25 per cent of the world’s maritime trade passes through the Strait of Malacca. More than 2000 ships per day transport goods between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea via this bottleneck. A disruption to these maritime trade routes and thus to the supply chains to and from Europe would have serious consequences for the prosperity and supply of our population,” he added, highlighting the importance of Indian Ocean for global trade and its strategic value for Germany.
On the other hand, France, a long-time defence partner of India, held a trilateral dialogue with India and Australia on the future strategy in Indo-Pacific on Wednesday. “The outcome-oriented meeting was held with the objective of building on the strong bilateral relations that the three countries share with each other and synergising their respective strengths to ensure a peaceful, secure, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific Region,” read an MEA handout.
Given the French government’s attitude towards China in the last few months, it is very much evident that France wants to assist New Delhi in containing Beijing in Indo-Pacific. “The increased salience of resilient and reliable supply chains was also discussed,” said an official.
From the statement of both the countries, it is very much evident that the sole aim of their Indo-Pacific strategy is to woo India and ensure that New Delhi takes them along in the upcoming geo-strategic alliance. Also, both the countries see India as an integral part of the global supply chain which will emerge in the post-Coronavirus world, given the fact, only India has market size and labour force strength to replace China.
In wooing India, both the countries will play on their strengths. Germany is the fourth-largest economy in the world with an annual GDP of 4 trillion dollars and has large companies which can set up manufacturing units in India. It can offer Indian companies technical know-how and help India to become a manufacturing hub for Western companies.
On the other hand, France is a long-time defence ally of India manufacturing and a significant military power; therefore, it can help the country to build domestic capabilities in defence. Thus, the Macron government will benefit if India takes a military point of view of Indo-Pacific while Germany will benefit if New Delhi focuses more on the economic side.
In conclusion, the fate of Germany and France, and their interests in Indo-Pacific is in the hands of New Delhi, and the Modi government would try to capitalize on both for its self-interest, given the fact that national Interest is the driving factor of its foreign policy.