India, Germany to up IT cooperation

The two countries discussed possibility of creating a working group to boost cooperation in IT, amid rising bilateral trade between India and Germany.

India and Germany are mulling plans to form a working group to increase bilateral cooperation in the IT sector, amid increasing trade between them.

The group will look at areas such as e-learning and e-medicine among other things, said German vice chancellor Philip Rosler, who met Indian IT Minister Kapil Sibal, according to a report by Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) Sunday.

Rolser was in India for the 13th Asia-Pacific Conference of German Business held in Gurgaon city in the Indian state of Haryana over the weekend.

The official, who is in charge of economy and technology in Germany's federal government, said both countries also discussed the possibility of cooperation in urban planning and furthering bilateral trade.

Despite the ongoing euro-zone crisis, trade between India and Germany is expected to hit 20 billion euros (US$26.16 billion) by the end of this year, up from US$23.56 billion last year, the IANS report said.

Germany is the eighth largest foreign direct investor in India at around US$4.9 billion, it added.

Germany's ambassador to India Michael Steiner said achieving the trade target would have a positive impact on the negotiations surrounding the free trade agreement (FTA) between India and the European Union.

Last September, India said it would only agree to a FTA with the EU if the latter accorded it the status of a data-secure destination . Local newspaper The Economic Times said the country tied the FTA negotiations with the data-secure status, as such recognition would boost its business process outsourcing industry.

India has no access to sensitive data such as intellectual property or patient information required for telemedicine from the EU, because the latter does not consider the country a data-secure market , and data protection laws prohibit the transfer of such information, the report said.