March 12, 2018
Apart from a clutch of crucial agreements signed between the two sides, both nations also provided leadership to an emerging plurilateral organisation, the International Solar Alliance
The MoUs signed range from combating drug trafficking and terrorism to education, technical cooperation in railways, armed forces, sustainable urban development and energy
France’s cumulative investment of US$6.2 billion from April 2000 to December 2017 makes it India’s ninth largest foreign investor partner, representing 2 per cent of the total FDI inflows
During the visit, President Macron and PM Modi reaffirmed their commitment to uphold the multilateral rules-based systems, especially for enhancing free, fair, and open trade
The Indo-French partnership, built on a foundation of close friendship, has been imbued with a new strategic dimension following the state visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India over March 10-12, 2018. Apart from a clutch of crucial agreements signed between the two sides, both nations also provided leadership to an emerging plurilateral organisation, the International Solar Alliance, which is predicated on sustainable technologies and seeks to provide energy-autonomy to developing nations. The two nations signed a total of 14 agreements during President Macron’s visit to India. The MoUs signed range from combating drug trafficking and terrorism to mutual recognition of educational qualifications, technical cooperation in railways, reciprocal logistics support for armed forces, sustainable urban development and cooperation in energy (both nuclear and renewable).
Welcoming President Macron to India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: “The history of bilateral cooperation between India and France in the areas of defence, security, space and high technology is age old. There is a bipartisan agreement about bilateral relations between the two countries. The graph of our relations has always been rising irrespective of the government in the two countries.”
The Indo-French relationship, traditionally defined by warm links, entered into a strategic phase in 1998 with three principal pillars: cooperation in defence, space and civil nuclear programmes. The strategic partnership is symbolic of the strengthening bilateral relationship and provides a fitting platform for a confluence of views across a wide range of global issues. France was the first country to raise the demand for India’s integration into the global nuclear order, even before the USA; in fact, France has consistently backed India’s candidature for membership to the nuclear multilateral export control regimes, such as Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). India’s membership into MTCR, in June 2016, was made possible because of France’s vigorous support. France also supports India’s permanent membership in the US Security Council.
India and France share a range of regular, structured institutional dialogues. The annual India-France Strategic Dialogue takes place between national security advisers from both sides. In defence, apart from regular exchange of visits by chiefs of army staff and joint defence exercises, both nations are also involved in multiple projects, such as supply of Rafale aircrafts or Scorpene submarines. Both nations also have a rich history in space cooperation, with France hosting all the early Indian satellite launches. Apart from supplying components and equipment for the Indian space programme, France’s space agency, the Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES), has an agreement with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for joint development in multiple spheres. In the area of civil nuclear cooperation, French utility Électricité de France SA (EDF) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd for construction of six third generation pressurized water reactor units at Jaitapur of 1650 MWe each.
The most visible aspect of the partnership is in the area of economy and trade. Total trade in goods between the two nations touched US$11 billion during the financial year 2016-17, compared with total trade of US$8.4 billion during 2015-16, registering a growth of 31 per cent. French companies have traditionally enjoyed a dominant presence in India. Currently, almost 1,000 French companies operate in India, with a turnover of about US$20 billion and employing around 300,000 people. French firms have more than 25 R&D centres in India. France’s cumulative investment of US$6.2 billion from April 2000 to December 2017 makes it India’s ninth largest foreign investor, representing 2 per cent of the total FDI inflows. Meanwhile, about 120 Indian companies are currently operating in France, with an estimated investment stock of Euro one billion and employing 7,000 people.
The two leaders also co-hosted the founding summit of the International Solar Alliance in New Delhi on March 11. The conference was attended by 21 heads of states and governments, 6 vice presidents and deputy prime ministers, 19 ministers as heads of delegation, apart from many other ministers who were accompanying their respective governments. At the summit, President Macron pledged over US$860 million for solar projects in developing countries and lauded India’s efforts in making International Solar Alliance a reality. Speaking at the summit, he said: “It is not enough to look at what governments are doing. We need a new international deal with the private sector, the international public sector and the civil society as well.” The two also reaffirmed their commitment to uphold the multilateral rules-based systems, especially for enhancing free, fair, and open trade.