India, France envisage furthering their bilateral cooperation
The Dollar Business Bureau
Months after India and France inked the much-delayed multi-billion Rafale fighter jet deal, the two all-weather partners on Sunday underlined the need to further their bilateral cooperation in a wide gamut of sectors including defence and trade, while also discussing international terrorism which has victimised both the nations.
French Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the 14th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the Government’s outreach programme for overseas Indians to discuss the various aspects of India-France partnership.
Ayrault, who is on a three-day visit to India, said: “We spoke about defence because India needs to protect itself. Therefore, defence is an important area. I also shared with him concerns about terrorism and how we are together in fighting it.”
In last September, India signed a €7.87 billion (Rs.59,000 crore) agreement with France to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets. On Sunday, the two countries discussed potential collaboration on other defence equipment such as submarines, helicopters and, of course, Rafale.
Vikas Swaroop, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in a media briefing that Ayrault and Modi reaffirmed close strategic partnerships and contemplated upon several issues including defence and international terrorism.
“The PM of India today welcomed the French Foreign Affairs Minister on his first visit to India. Both sides reaffirmed close strategic partnerships between India and France, which will be seen as a further fillip for the closure of Rafale deal,” he said.
According to Swarup, the French Minister said “the bilateral ties should now move forward with a speed of Rafale.” He also said France is ready to give more arms to India.
During the meeting, Modi pitched his Make in India initiative and conveyed that India would be looking forward to collaborate with France on building defence equipment in India. He also discussed bilateral cooperation in civil energy, as India would soon need more energy than any other country in the world, and since India has also committed to Paris Climate Agreement.
Swaroop also said that the French Foreign Minister also referred to the €20 billion investment by French companies in India, and said the French companies’ participation in the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit would further open the door for their future investments in India.
During the summit, the French companies explored India’s various sectors including automobile, energy, smart city, transport and waste management for their future investments.
Last year, French Minister of State for Industry Christophe Sirugue visited India on October 25-27 to explore economic cooperation and investments opportunities.
France’s investments in India are majorly in services sector (19.02%), followed by cement & gypsum products (16.49%), drugs & pharmaceuticals (6.06%), industrial machinery (6.06%) and food processing industries (5.86%) and.
Early last year, France announced a $10 billion investment in India for the next five years.
India’s investments in France, too, has gone up significantly over the last few years, with over 42% of its investments in production/manufacturing, 33% in business services and 17% in decision-making centres.
The two partners, however, recognise that the bilateral investments between the two countries, however, continue to be well below potential. India seeks more French investments in, aero-space, agro-processing, energy, high speed rail networks and urban infrastructure.
France is currently the 9th largest investor in India, with a total investment of $5.15 billion during April 2000 and May 2016. India, on the other hand, is the 30th largest foreign investor in France, with its total outflow amounting to over $480 million.