New Delhi, July 14 (IANS) Germany expects India to conclude its free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union by the end of 2012, despite the economic gloom the world over, to send out a strong signal that the two sides mean business, German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner said here Saturday.
A day after presenting his credentials to President Pratibha Patil, the envoy said Germany and India are all set to achieve their target of euro 20 billion ($24.4 bn) bilateral trade by the end of this year.
"I am very much looking forward that what the (Indian) commerce minister (Anand Sharma) envisaged with his European Commission colleague to have the European Union-India free trade agreement by the end of this year," Steiner told reporters here.
"That will be the important part of a long term perspective and direction to the European Union-India cooperation. Under the present circumstances (economic slowdown), a lot of questions are asked where we go and doubts expressed if the processes are dynamic enough.
"I think if we have the settlement of this agreement, that will be a powerful signal despite these gloomy perceptions and a sign that we mean business to allow more trade and investment," he said about the FTA.
The FTA, the envoy said, will cover a very broad spectrum including insurance and automobiles to everything else.
The Indian automobiles industry has raised an alarm over the sector being included in the FTA, claiming it will kill investments and technology flow into the country, resulting in under-achievement of the government's automotive mission plan.
European Union is India's largest trading partner and Germany the largest European trading partner.