Relations between India and France have traditionally been close and friendly. With the establishment of the strategic partnership in 1998, there has been significant progress in all areas of bilateral cooperation through regular high-level exchanges at the Head of State/Head of Government levels and growing commercial exchanges including in strategic areas such as defence, nuclear energy and space. France was the first country with which India entered into an agreement on nuclear energy following the waiver given by International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group enabling India to resume full civil nuclear cooperation with the international community. Today our relations are growing fast in important areas for the future, with wide-ranging cooperation in political, economic and cultural fields and on defence, space, science & technology, and education. France has consistently supported India’s increasing role in international fora.
At the invitation of Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh, President Sarkozy undertook his second visit to India from 4-7 December 2010. His visit contributed to further strengthening the bilateral relationship between India and France – especially in key areas of civil nuclear, space and defence co-operation. This was an occasion for both leaders to reaffirm their shared vision and values and to announce their determination to give
a new impetus to the Indo-French Strategic Partnership and greater content to our economic and commercial relations, while expanding ties in the fields of culture, science and technology and education.
In the last two years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Sarkozy have also met at international conferences - the G-8 + 5 in Italy and the G-20 Summit in London (April 2009) and Pittsburg (Sept 2009). The two leaders held a separate meeting on the sidelines of the CHOGM in Trinidad & Tobago on 27 November 2009 and G-20 Summit in Toronto in June 2010 and in Seoul in November 2010, and discussed both bilateral and global issues.
PM’s visit as Guest of Honour to the 14 July Bastille Day Celebrations: Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had visited France from 13-14 July 2009. He was the guest of honour at the French National Day celebrations (Bastille Day parade). A 400-strong contingent of the Indian armed forces led the Bastille Day parade - the first time ever, that Indian troops took part in another country’s national day parade.
President Sarkozy hosted a lunch in honour of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after which PM and the President addressed a larger gathering at the President’s National Day reception at the Elysée. PM extended an invitation to President Sarkozy and his wife to visit India which they did in December 2010.
Institutional Structure for dialogue:
France and India have instituted a high-level, Strategic Dialogue at the level of National Security Advisors which provides both sides an opportunity to review key elements of the bilateral agenda between India and France and particularly, the overall global security situation and emerging challenges. The 21st round of the India-France Strategic Dialogue took place in New Delhi, on 18 January, 2010, while the 22nd round was held in New Delhi, on 11 October 2010. Annual Foreign Office Consultations are held at the level of Foreign Secretaries of the two countries. The last Consultations took place in Paris on 6th May, 2011. A special Joint Working Group on Terrorism has been established for cooperation in the fight against terrorism. A High Level Committee for Defence at the level of Defence Secretaries, working through its three specialized sub-committees, deals with issues related to bilateral defence cooperation. The last meeting was held in Paris on 18 – 19 November 2010. A Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation at the level of Ministers of Commerce, deals with issues related to commerce and trade. The last meeting was held in Paris, on 24-25 June 2010. Minister of Commerce and Industry led the Indian delegation.
The Indo-French CEOs Forum formed in 2009 was called upon to identify new avenues for cooperation and take initiatives to facilitate business links between both countries. The second meeting of the CEO’s Forum, held in Paris in June 2010 had focused on Energy, Water and Infrastructure, Green Growth, Education and fostering Joint Ventures for investment in third countries. Tasked to propose ways of strengthening bilateral economic and trade linkages in the field of clean energy and education, the Forum submitted their recommendations to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and President Sarkozy during the latter's visit to India in December 2010.
Indo French Trade & Investment
France is the 5th largest economy of the world and an important member of the G-8. Its technological strengths make it the leader in sectors such as aviation, space, food processing, transport, railways and agricultural research. However, France’s business interaction with India is not commensurate with its intrinsic economic capacity. France is ranked 5th in the list of India’s trading partners among EU countries (after the Germany, UK, Belgium, and Netherlands). While economic and commercial relations continued to remain below potential, the bilateral trade increased to Euro 7.03 bn in 2010, an increase of 31% over 2009. During President Sarkozy's visit to India, in December 2010, the goal of doubling bilateral trade over the period 2008-2012 was reiterated by the two leaders.
Major items of French exports comprise electrical equipment, aeronautical & space construction products, measuring & control equipments, iron & steel products, equipment for emission and transmission of sound & image, mechanical equipments, organic and other chemical products, general & special usage machines, equipment for reception & recording of sound & image, machine tools, engines and turbines etc.
Indian exports comprise a range of goods and services from the small and medium sector. Refined petroleum products, garments, textiles and apparel, accessories, leather clothes & footwear etc. constitute a major share of India's exports to France. Imports of refined petroleum products, auto equipment, fish and fish products and gems & jewellery and organic chemicals have been increasing.
Investment: France is the 9th largest foreign investor in India. [Investment was of the order of US $ 2.78 bn during the period April 2000 – April 2011 which represents 2% of total inflows]. The number of technical and financial collaborations approved with France is 952. During the year 2010, there was a substantial development of cross investments between the two countries with investments by French companies in the car industry, building materials, electrical equipment, public water utilities and rail transport. Indian companies also expanded their presences in France with investments in IT, pharmaceuticals, metallurgy etc. Cumulative French investment in India at the end of 2010 is estimated at Euro 2.75 billion while the Indian investment in France is estimated at around $1 billion. Indian companies have created or maintained more than 8000 jobs in France. However, French firms have in 2010 recorded intent of investing Euro 10 billion in the next couple of years.
Indo-French dialogue on economic and technical issues is conducted through Joint Working Groups on IT & Telecom, Roads, Environment, Urban Development & Urban Transportation and Agriculture. Bilateral Air Services Talks were held, on 10-11 February 2010, in Paris and three MOUs on the Bilateral Air Services Agreement were signed on the occasion.
Civilian Nuclear Energy Cooperation: A landmark Agreement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation between India and France was signed during the visit to France of PM Dr. Manmohan Singh on 30 September, 2008. This has resulted in collaboration in many related areas and both countries have concluded a number of agreements.
During President Sarkozy's visit to India in December 2010, a General Framework Agreement and an Early Works Agreement were signed between NPCIL and AREVA.
Civilian Space Cooperation: France and India view each other as important partners in space technology and applications. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its French counterpart Centre National de Etudes Spatiales (CNES) have a rich legacy of cooperation and collaboration spanning about four decades. ISRO and CNES hold annual bilateral meetings. The last meeting was held in Bangalore in July 2010. Scientific community of these two nations cooperates in joint radiation experiment, space components development and space education.
Arianespace provides launch facilities for Indian Satellites (INSAT), while India’s PSLV has been used to launch satellites for European customers. During President Sarkozy's December 2010 visit to India, an MOU has been signed between the French Space Agency, Centre National de Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on future areas of co-operation in Earth Observation for climate change and space exploration.
French Parliamentary Group on Space (GPE) visited ISRO Headquarters on March 31, 2011 and interacted with ISRO community to understand Indian Space programme and its linkage with the parliament and general public.
Defence Cooperation: Defence cooperation with France is a key aspect of our overall bilateral relationship. The High Level Committee on Defence Cooperation held its 13th session in Paris on 18-19 November 2010 and reviewed bilateral ties covering strategic perceptions, collaboration in R&D and procurement issues. Under the framework of the structured talks on Indo-French Defence Cooperation several meetings on industrial collaboration and service exchanges are held regularly.
Indo-French Air Force Exercise Garuda IV was held at Istres air base in France from 14 - 25 June 2010 with participation of SU MKI aircraft from India. Indo - French Naval Exercise, Varuna was held in the Indian Ocean from 07 – 14 January 2011.
The French Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Edouard Guillaud visited India from 15 to 20 October 2010 while the French Army Chief, General Elrick Irastorza visited India from 31 January to 02 February 2011. Mr. Laurent Collet-Billon, Head of the French DGA (Delegate General for Armaments) and General Jean-Paul Palomeros, the French Air Force Chief, participated in Aero India 2011 at Bangalore from 09 February to 13 February 2011.
The French Minister of Defence, Mr. Gérard Longuet visited India from 25 to 27 May 2011. During his visit, the French Defence Minister met Shri A K Antony, Hon’ble Raksha Mantri and other senior Defence officials. Shri MM Pallam Raju, Hon’’ble Raksha Rajya Mantri led an MoD delegation for the 49th Paris Air Show from 19 to23 June 2011.
Cultural Exchanges: Indian culture enjoys a wide and discerning audience among the French population, as is evident in the numerous and frequent cultural events organised all over France, spanning the entire diversity of Indian art, music, dance and literature. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) sponsors visits of Indian artists to France as also exchange of students in the field of culture and art. A significant number of Indian artists also perform in France on a commercial basis or at the initiative of the various local cultural associations outside the purview of the official exchanges. Popular Indian cinema is finding new appreciation in France. Indian Film Festivals are organised round the year in different parts of France. India has now acquired a property in Paris to establish a centre for cultural activities under the Embassy of India in Paris.
In accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between ICCR and the French Foreign Ministry in November 2009 on organizing cultural festivals in each other’s countries and in response to a three-month French Cultural Festival "Bonjour India” held in India from Nov. 2009, an Indian cultural festival, "Namaste France" was launched in France on 14 April, 2010 and closed on 28 June, 2011. President ICCR, Dr. Karan Singh inaugurated the event on 14th April. The Festival featured events covering the entire diversity of Indian culture including art, music, dance, fashion, tourism, films, and literature as also business and education. The news channel France 24 was launched in India. An agreement on Film Co-Production was signed on the occasion of the visit of the French President to India in December 2010, which will inspire India-France joint co-operation projects in the film industry.
Educational and Technical Cooperation: Bilateral cooperation in the fields of higher education, research, and S&T cooperation is vibrant and intensifying within the governmental framework as well as outside it and is being encouraged through the India-France educational exchange programme, the Indo-French Consortium of Universities, through scholarships, ICCR Chairs in Sanskrit/Indian Economy in France and social sciences research programmes. During the visit of President Sarkozy to India last year in December, bilateral relations in the field of education were further strengthened with the signing of MoUs between Indian Institute of Technology ( Khargpur, Bombay, Chennai, Kanpur, Delhi, Guwahati and Roorkee) and Paris Tech- a consortium of Grand Ecoles, and another between IIT- Bombay and Group des Ecole des Mines as well Institut Telecom to foster academic/scientific collaboration through faculty/researcher exchange and joint research programmes. An MoU on Indo-French collaboration in establishing an Indian Institute of Technology in Rajasthan is being finalized.
The number and scope of MoUs being signed between prestigious Indian and French university and private institutions has crossed the 300 mark in several disciplines including new ones (heritage conservation, digital archiving etc) for students and faculty exchange. An MoU had been signed during the visit of President Sarkozy between President Grenoble 3 - University and IGNOU for promoting the study of French language last December. A number of scholarships are being offered by the French government to Indian students for studying French language, S&T, IT, Hotel Management, Public Administration, Fine Arts, Mass Communication, etc and the number of Indian students studying in France has gone up to 2200. The French authorities have provided land for extending the Maison de L‘Inde, which will contribute to substantially enhancing accommodation facilities for Indian students in France.
Indians and Indian-origin persons in France: The Indian community including NRIs in France is estimated to be around 70,000, largely originating from Pondicherry, Karaikal, Yanam, Mahe and Chandranagar. There are also large communities of PIOs in the Reunion Island (about 230,000), Guadeloupe (about 57000), Martinique (about 5000) and St. Martin (about 3600-French and Dutch sides), the overseas territories/departments of France.
Multilateral: During the visit of President Sarkozy to India in December 2010, both Governments reiterated the need for in-depth reform of the United Nations, including of its Security Council, to make it more representative of the 21st Century. France reaffirmed its support for India to become a permanent member of an expanded Security Council without further delay. On its part, India committed to working together with France in the G20. In respect of multilateral trade, the two countries looked forward to an ambitious, comprehensive and balanced conclusion of the Doha Development Round of Negotiations in 2011. The two countries called for renewed efforts to achieve the mutually beneficial conclusion of the EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement.