The economic ties between India and the EU are being strengthened based on new trade and tech plan amid skepticism over China, reported Daily Mirror Online (DMO). The Sri Lanka-based publication said that the European Union (EU) is seeking deeper ties with New Delhi as Europe-China ties are strained by sanctions spat over accusations of rights abuses in Xinjiang that left progress on a 2020 investment agreement frozen.
Moreover, there were accusations of economic coercion over Lithuania’s friendly relations with Taiwan and disagreements over the war in Ukraine. Recently, in a first-of-its-kind meeting, three Indian ministers and four European commissioners discussed semiconductor supply chains and artificial intelligence regulation, reported DMO.
After the first meeting of the EU-India Trade and Technology Council in Brussels, EU officials spoke of “very promising beginnings.” Moreover, the EU wants to “de-risk” China ties as many countries are moving away from China’s dominance in the sector due to supply chain vulnerabilities and geopolitical pressures. However, Brussels does not want to cut off ties with Beijing altogether, but it does want to diversify its supply chains. That’s where India comes in, reported DMO. A large part of semiconductor manufacturing involves design and intellectual labour. India has an advantage here, as a large portion of semiconductor design engineers globally are either Indian or Indian-origin; chipmaking firms such as Intel and NVIDIA have large facilities in India that are already flush with Indian talent working on design problems. This is an advantage that China is losing control over in the face of sanctions and an ageing population. “India has a population of 1.4 billion.
So, we are an economy of scale, and the EU is an economy of skill — it’s natural that these two power centres should come together,” Swasti Rao, an associate fellow at the Indian government-funded think tank the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, told DW News, a German publication. Rao said India, with its workforce and manufacturing capacities, is high on Brussels’ list.
Then, there’s the politics. “India is very wary of a China-led Asian order, and India will do everything it can to keep Asia, by and large, multipolar,” Rao explained. Also, New Delhi-Beijing relations are also complicated by a border dispute and India’s move to restrict a host of Chinese tech, including the popular video-sharing app TikTok. Europe-China ties, meanwhile, have long been strained by sanctions spat over accusations of rights abuses in Xinjiang that left progress on a 2020 investment agreement frozen, reported DMO.
European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager pointed to Indian plans to boost semiconductor production as an example of how EU-India ties could “give muscle” to Brussels’ idea of “de-risking.” She cited quantum computing and “technologies developing beyond 5G” as areas where India could offer “trusted vendors” for Europe in the future. “If we want increased economic security, we need to do that through partnerships,” Vestager told reporters, reported DMO.
“We’ve seen that many companies which are leaving China also prefer to go to Southeast Asian countries. So, India is here in competition with other Asian players,” Berlin-based analyst Christian Wagner, a researcher with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, told DW. “But when we look at the geostrategic landscape,” he said, “I think India has certainly a much bigger profile,” said Wagner. He said that India at the moment is in a very favourable position, because both the Western countries, the United States, the European Union, as well as Russia, as well as China, are wooing India and trying to intensify their relations, reported DW.